Tennessee lawmakers have proposed a bill that would enable a biological father to stop a woman from getting an abortion.
Republican state Sen. Mark Pody introduced SB0494 on Feb. 8 that calls for:
As introduced, permits a person to petition a court for an injunction to prohibit a woman who is pregnant with the person’s unborn child from obtaining an abortion; requires the petitioner to execute a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity that is not subject to being rescinded or challenged.
Once the injunction is issued, the court must hold a hearing with both parties within 14 days, The Hill reported. Should the woman violate the injunction and get an abortion, “The court may hold the respondent in civil or criminal contempt and punish the respondent in accordance with the law.”
“The voluntary acknowledgement of paternity may be executed without the signature of the child’s mother,” the bill states. “The voluntary acknowledgement of paternity must be proven by filing a certified copy with the court.”
A judge could grant the petition as long as the petitioner proves he’s the biological father of an unborn child and there is a “reasonable possibility” that the woman would seek an abortion, according to USA Today.
The alleged father does not need to “provide DNA evidence to prove that the petitioner is the biological father of the respondent’s unborn child,” according to the bill.
“If the woman acknowledges the petitioner’s fatherhood, no DNA evidence would be required,” Pody said.
Pody noted that any man who claims to be the father would then be responsible for child support and other parental obligations. The man would not be able to rescind or challenge the paternity of the child after the birth of the child.
“He can’t turn around under any circumstance and say, ‘I was wrong, and it’s not mine,'” Pody explained.
The bill makes no exception for rape or incest.
The Senate bill was passed on second consideration on Feb. 11, and has since been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Republican state Rep. Jerry Sexton sponsored the bill in the House, where it passed first consideration.
If the bills are passed and approved, the legislation would take effect on July 1.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed a heartbeat bill into law last July that banned abortions at the detection of a heartbeat. Lee called signing the new law a “historic moment,” adding that the legislation is “arguably the most conservative, pro-life legislation in the country.”
“It’s our responsibility to protect the most vulnerable in our community,” Lee said at the time. “Certainly the most vulnerable in Tennessee includes the unborn, which is why with the signature of this bill, Tennessee is one of the most pro-life states in America.”
During his 2021 State of the State address, Lee said, “You already know that I am strongly pro-life, and I will continue to defend this position.”