Yesterday’s News Channel 5 broadcast contained a powerful segment about the hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans stuck in the “coverage gap” thanks to the TN GOP’s refusal to expand medicaid, which has cost our state $6 Billion and counting and helped us lead the country in rural hospital closures per capita. Read more
Rep. Micah Van Huss (R-Jonesborough) has introduced a bill that would make it a crime to perform or obtain an abortion in Tennessee after a fetal heartbeat is detected, with the only exception being a medical emergency – a bill that was already struck down as unconstitutional by a federal judge in Iowa.
The Bill has the support of both Governor Lee and Glen Casada, who told the Associated Press that he thinks it’s “a fight worth having in front of the Supreme Court.”
Even Tennessee Right to Life, a group that advocates against abortions, opposes the measure because they believe it would not survive legal challenges. It’s similar to one that was introduced in 2017 that the then Tennessee Attorney General also called “constitutionally suspect” which failed in large part due to lack of support from Tennessee Right to Life.
This bill – HB 0077 – would essentially make it a crime to provide OR receive an abortion after 8 weeks (when a fetal heartbeat is detectable), with the only exception exception being a medical emergency.
There’s no mention of rape, incest or mental health exceptions.
Close to 70,000 women a year die from unsafe abortion and numerous others suffer grave injuries, including infection, hemorrhaging, and infertility. Half of all pregnancies in this country are unintended, and, of those, half end in abortion.
This bill would do nothing to reduce unintended pregnancies, which is what abortion reduction laws should focus on. According to the CDC:
In 2006, 49% of pregnancies were unintended—a slight increase from 48% in 2001.
Among women aged 19 years and younger, more than 4 out of 5 pregnancies were unintended.
The proportion of pregnancies that were unintended was highest among teens younger than age 15 years, at 98%.
Large increases in unintended pregnancy rates were found among women with lower education, low income, and cohabiting women.
The National Institutes of Health tells us there are several approaches that have been shown to be effective in reducing unintended pregnancies:
Ensure birth control and family planning is freely available to adolescents and adults
Sex education programs, which provide information on abstinence and contraceptive use and do NOT encourage the onset of sexual intercourse nor increase the frequency of intercourse among adolescents. (In fact, quite the opposite)
Expand Medicaid (as most other states have) so low-income mothers can have access to family planning and prenatal care that helps prevent birth defects.
Medicaid is pro-life. Rejecting $6 billion of our own federal dollars isn’t making mothers or children any safer. We should join the majority of the country and expand medicaid now.
Rep. Jim cooper has a bill that would give us even less excuse for not doing it.
Representative Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville) responded to the Heartbeat bill by telling The Holler: “We need to trust women. It’s a rights issue. If you don’t allow a woman to make decisions about her own body, you don’t believe in equal rights.” Johnson continued, “We do not need the government in our doctors’ offices. It’s always one of those ‘small government’ guys who comes in with a bill to regulate women’s health care.”
6 in 10 women say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
The latest proof Republicans don’t actually like democracy much comes to us in the form of a bill sponsored by Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains) in the Senate and Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville) in the House, SB 0027 and HB 0021 respectively, which would change the Senate nomination process, doing away with primaries and letting state legislatures appoint candidates instead.
It’s a bill we’ve been warned about, brought to us by ALEC and the Koch Brothers, neither of which are big fans of letting the people have our say. Like voter suppression and gerrymandering, it’s yet another effort to minimize the influence of actual voters and concentrate power at the top.
As the infamously corrupt NYC politician Boss Tweed once said, “I don’t care who does the electing as long as I get to do the nominating.”
This is nothing short of a repeal of the 17th amendment, which was enacted to “reduce corruption at the state level”.
The bill still lets the people vote in a general election (how nice of them!), but would have candidates for Senate nominated by the members of their respective Republican or Democrat party of the Tennessee House of Representatives and Tennessee Senate.
No independent or write-in candidates.
No other state has done this yet, but ALEC is trying. As Nicely dramatically told The Tennessee Star: “This bill could change everything. It could save the world.”
Why? Maybe because, as the Star also tells us:
In 2018 the National Constitution Center posed the question, “What would the Senate look like today without the 17th Amendment?”
The simple answer, “It would probably be much more controlled by the Republicans.”
They’d clearly prefer to just repeal the 17th Amendment, but according to Mark Levin and the NCC that would be harder “Because of the idea that direct election gives the power to the people.” (yes what would give us that idea!)
The Niceley/Williams bill would go into effect November 30, 2019, impacting the 2020 U.S. Senate nomination process.
Yesterday a group of students gathered at the capital to ask Governor Lee to remove the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a confederate general who also has the distinction of being the first ever KKK Grand Wizard.
Watch and Share the Video Here:
“We come in peace and love… we’re tired of being tired.” – Jeneisha Harris, TSU
The bust is featured prominently in the lobby outside the state legislature. The students are not the first to protest it, and they won’t be the last.
The young Tennesseans came from all over the state to make their voices heard, leaving letters expressing their feelings on the floor outside the Governor’s office and stopping to pray in front of the state troopers who stood guard outside the governor’s office
As Justin Jones of Vanderbilt Divinity School says, history isn’t just something we read about in history books, history is going on every day. If you agree with these brave kids and what they’re doing, HOLLER at Governor Lee HERE.
And please watch and share the video above, footage courtesy of WZTV.
A study from the Center For American Women shows Tennessee is well below the average for female representation in our state legislature, ranking in the bottom 10 states.
28% of state legislators nationwide are women – two-thirds of which are Democrats – but here in Tennessee that number is only 15%.
We have some work to do here.
Meanwhile of those 28%, just over 1 in 5 are women of color. Currently Juanita Charles is running to increase both totals in a special election in Clarksville, for the seat Mark Green left behind.
Instead of accepting the billions of dollars we lose each year and simply expanding Medicaid like many other “red” states already have – and they don’t regret it – Tennessee Republicans want permission to impose a work reporting requirement on poor parents and caregivers who get coverage through Medicaid.
What would this mean?
A new study from Georgetown tells us this would mean 68,000 of our most vulnerable families lose coverage, mainly in rural areas, and THEIR KIDS WILL SUFFER THE MOST.
- In Arkansas 23 percent of affected adults lost their health insurance. If Tennessee has a similar outcome, approximately 68,000 parents will lose their Medicaid coverage.
- The new rules would predominantly affect Tennessee’s poorest mothers in small towns and rural communities.
- Even if these parents work more hours, they are unlikely to have an offer of health coverage from their employers.
- The loss of coverage for parents would affect their children, creating more financial hardship for families and risking children’s access to health care. Tennessee was one of nine states to see a significant increase in children lacking health coverage in 2017.
These families could find affordable health coverage from somewhere like IEHP instead, but if they are amongst the poorest families in Tennessee even this may not be possible. As yet another rural hospital closes in Clay County, there’s simply no excuse for not expanding Medicaid at this point.
Today we learned from the Tennessean that Glen Casada and the TN House GOP are changing the rules in House committee meetings – and the House floor itself – to ban cameras and live-streaming in the gallery, and by representatives.
This attack on transparency should be upsetting to everyone.
Their defense will be that the House itself will post streams of the meetings after the fact, but we’re told that will give them ample time to edit them before the streams go up, which means not hearing some of the most important “Oh no he didn’t” moments this house has to offer.
Which is exactly the point.
This session promises to be extremely controversial, and they know it, which is why they’re turning out the lights on democracy. Regardless of party, you should be up in arms about this. Contact Glen Casada, or your reps, and tell them to turn the lights back on.
Rep. David Byrd has admitted on tape to Sexual misconduct with the basketball players he coached. Speaker Harwell, from Byrd’s own Republican Party, asked him to step down, but he refused, and promptly ran for re-election, where he won with nearly 80% of the vote.
As if all that wasn’t bad enough, now Speaker Casada has appointed Byrd head of the Education Subcommittee, a slap in the face to moms and daughters and survivors everywhere.
Had enough? Contact Enough Is Enough and join the fight to get right of Rep. Byrd, and the men who protect him.