By Kaleigh Cortez, News Editor-
Two Tennessee lawmakers introduced legislation that would allow a biological father to restrict a pregnant woman from receiving an abortion.
State Sen. Mark Pody and state Rep. Jerry Sexton introduced the bill that could allow a person to petition against an abortion to the Senate and House last week.
The bill, SB 494/HB 1079, states that a person who voluntarily claims paternity for the fetus “may petition a court with jurisdiction over domestic relations matters to request an injunction to prohibit a woman who is pregnant with the person’s unborn child from obtaining an abortion.”
DNA evidence of paternity is not required if a judge determines there is enough proof to establish fatherhood.
If a woman violates the injunction, “the court may hold the respondent in civil or criminal contempt and punish the respondent in accordance with the law,” according to the bill.
There are no exceptions to the legislation in the case of rape or incest.
Pody stated the legislature was created when a Tennessee citizen raised concerns regarding the lack of input fathers have in an abortion.
“I believe a father should have a right to say what’s gonna be happening to that child,” Pody said. “And if somebody is going to kill that child, he should be able to say, ‘No, I don’t want that child to be killed.’”
The legislation has sparked controversy amongst pro-choice groups. The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee Executive Director, Hedy Weinburg published a statement criticizing the bill.
“This unconstitutional legislation demonstrates the condescending mindset underlying this bill: that men should control women’s bodies,” she said. “Women are not chattel and this bill needs to be stopped in its tracks.”
The Tennessee state Senate passed the bill on second consideration. It is now in the hands of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The bill may not be deemed constitutional, however, because of the 1992 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The Supreme Court ruled that pregnant women do not need to inform their partner prior to having an abortion.
If the bill is passed, it will go into effect on July 1.