Democrats introduce Fundamental Right to Reproductive Health Care Act

Legislation entrusts reproductive healthcare decisions, including abortion, to women, doctors

Tennessee Senate Democrats
4 min readJan 31, 2023

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NASHVILLE — Democratic lawmakers—alongside doctors, faith leaders and community health advocates—announced Monday comprehensive legislation to restore legal access to reproductive care, including abortion, in Tennessee.

The Fundamental Right to Reproductive Health Care Act would protect reproductive healthcare decisions as a “fundamental right” and restrict government from intruding on that freedom. The legislation also repeals criminal statutes related pregnancies and deletes medically unnecessary requirements currently in the law.

Under current law, passed by the Republican supermajority in 2019, all abortion procedures are illegal in Tennessee without exception.

The proposed legislation, Senate Bill 762, empowers Tennesseans to make important medical decisions about their reproductive health and well-being free of government interference, lawmakers say.

Rep. John Ray Clemmons, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus:
“It places trust back in the hands of women, their families, their faith leaders and their physicians. This common sense legislation would rewrite Tennessee law to explicitly prohibit state and local government officials from interfering with women’s reproductive health care decisions.”

Sen. London Lamar, chairwoman of the Senate Democratic Caucus:
“We are here because we envision a world where Tennesseans are free to raise their children in safe, supportive, healthy, and loving communities free from government interference in their personal, family decisions. At this moment, we Democrats want to reiterate our commitment to the fight for control over our own bodies and the right to decide if our life matters more. That is why we are gathering to introduce the Fundamental Right to Reproductive Health Care Act. The bill will restore full rights to abortion, a right that women have had for the past 50 years. The fight to reinstate abortion access is about allowing women to choose their own life.”

Sen. Heidi Campbell, D-Nashville:
“Doctors are already leaving our state. Women won’t have access to obstetric or gynecological healthcare. Professors, entrepreneurs and business people are already leaving our state because they don’t want to live in a state that’s not safe for women. Businesses will not want to move here if we can’t support their female staff and children of their employees. This is not a sustainable economic decision. A Tennessee that is not safe for women is a Tennessee that is not good for business.”

Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville:
“My state, that I love dearly, has said that women are not equal… There is no health decision that men are not allowed to make on their own in this state or this country… This is unacceptable.”

Dr. Amy Gordon Bono, MD, MPH:
“I am thankful we now have the opportunity to restore the dignity of women and families and honor patients’ healthcare decisions. We need laws in our state that allow physicians to practice using our medical judgment — not law books. We need laws that allow us to practice evidence-based, patient-centered care. We need laws that trust women and families to make decisions that are best for them.”

Dr. Heather Maune, obstetrician and gynecologist:
“I stand here today representing my patients, who have been negatively impacted, and my colleagues who have been criminally implicated due to the trigger ban from August 2022… I hope my voice will help politicians understand how complex my job is and to comprehend the specialization it takes to assist patients. I appreciate the opportunity to bring trust back to sacred space of the patient-physician relationship, where no one should interfere with the threat of criminalization. My patients deserve the dignity and freedom to choose how to have a family with appropriate counsel and without government interference.”

Kathy Sinback, executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee:
We are here today to express our support for the Fundamental Right to Reproductive Health Care Act, which would fully restore access to abortion in Tennessee. While we recognize the challenges this bill will face in the days to come, it is an important step forward in what we know will be a long journey to achieve access to safe abortion care and comprehensive reproductive justice for all families who call Tennessee home.”

Pastor Kelli X of The Village Church:
“Our elected officials claim to be Christians and that it is their Christian faith that they use an excuse to pass dangerous and harmful laws that come between women, their families and their doctor… We have to demand the state legislature lives up to the faith that they say they have. And to live according to that law: that they might love the Lord with all their heart, all their mind and all their body and soul, and that they will love women as they love themselves.”

Nina Gurak, policy director for Healthy and Free Tennessee:
“While this bill is only a first step, we look forward to the long road we have ahead of us, not just to restore our right to an abortion, but to finally achieve meaningful access and reproductive justice in this state.”

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Tennessee Senate Democrats

Fighting for everyday people in the Tennessee General Assembly