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Tony Perkins / May 20, 2015

The Tenn Commandments

Time doesn’t just heal — it saves. Tennesseans are excited to see just how much, now that the state is officially part of the more than two dozen with abortion waiting periods. Under the new law, moms-to-be would have to visit the office for in-person counseling before returning two days later for the procedure. As part of that consultation, a doctor is required to tell them the age of their baby, the alternatives to abortion, and the risks of it. They’ll also learn that if their infant survives the procedure, the medical staff will do everything they can to care for the child. Any doctor who fails to comply could face criminal charges and/or lose his license. For pro-lifers, Tennessee’s move puts it just behind Oklahoma’s new 72-hour waiting period — with Florida and North Carolina next in line to enact similar laws. As popular as the idea was in the legislature, it was even more so with locals. In a poll by Vanderbilt University, *only 28%* opposed the 48-hour waiting period. Planned Parenthood must have made up a good bit of that percent, since its spokesmen were out in full force blasting the bill as “embarrassing.” Calling it a “sad day” for Tennessee, the group’s Steven Emmert argued that postponing abortions two days was somehow an “emotional hardship” for women.

Time doesn’t just heal — it saves. Tennesseans are excited to see just how much, now that the state is officially part of the more than two dozen with abortion waiting periods. Under the new law, moms-to-be would have to visit the office for in-person counseling before returning two days later for the procedure. As part of that consultation, a doctor is required to tell them the age of their baby, the alternatives to abortion, and the risks of it. They’ll also learn that if their infant survives the procedure, the medical staff will do everything they can to care for the child. Any doctor who fails to comply could face criminal charges and/or lose his license. For pro-lifers, Tennessee’s move puts it just behind Oklahoma’s new 72-hour waiting period — with Florida and North Carolina next in line to enact similar laws.

As popular as the idea was in the legislature, it was even more so with locals. In a poll by Vanderbilt University, only 28% opposed the 48-hour waiting period. Planned Parenthood must have made up a good bit of that percent, since its spokesmen were out in full force blasting the bill as “embarrassing.” Calling it a “sad day” for Tennessee, the group’s Steven Emmert argued that postponing abortions two days was somehow an “emotional hardship” for women.

On the contrary, this bill gives women what Planned Parenthood insists it supports: real choice. “Once women know all the facts and have all the facts before them, many will opt against abortion, and therefore, lives will be changed,” said pro-lifer Myra Simons. “Would that be a terrible thing? Isn’t pregnancy a thing to be celebrated now?” Of course, the pro-abortion movement wasn’t exactly built on thoughtful, informed decisions. “Now women and girls will be assured of additional information and adequate time to ensure that their decision is fully informed,” Brian Harris of Tennessee Right to Life told reporters. “Women will be empowered and lives will be saved as a result of these common-sense safeguards.”

If anyone knows the value of waiting, it’s voters in the Volunteer State — who spent 14 years trying to strip the “right” to abortion out of the state’s constitution. With the help of the local groups and organizations like FRC Action, Tennesseans passed Amendment 1 last November, restoring the right of citizens to advance pro-life measures through the legislature. Last week, Governor Bill Haslam ® kicked off the celebration by signing a bill into law that ensures abortion clinics are regulated like outpatient surgery centers. And not a moment too soon, judging by the series of botched abortions in states across America (five in four weeks at one Houston clinic!). These are just some of the 381 pro-life measures introduced this year! Think elections don’t matter? Think again!

Cowardly Lyin’ Kills LA Bill

There’s an endangered species in Louisiana, and it’s called the truth. Liberals proved that [Monday], as members of the state’s Civil Law Committee turned their backs on the facts of the Marriage and Conscience Act and voted to send the bill back to the calendar, effectively killing it. Despite the overwhelming support of voters and the governor, state lawmakers gave into the Left’s lies and distortions, sinking a key measure that would have protected Louisianans from state-sponsored persecution.

Rather than read the bill, Chairman Neil Abramson argued that the perception is that H.B. 707 discriminates — which is a ridiculous assertion recycled from the Indiana debate (about an entirely different bill!). Amazingly, Abramson admitted that he wasn’t looking for the truth of what the bill accomplishes. Instead, he deliberately called for the vote based on the Left’s propaganda. All the Marriage and Conscience Act guarantees is that the government can’t punish a person, business, or organization for holding the same beliefs that President Obama did three years ago: that marriage is the union of a man and woman.

More than 500 businesses and individuals had already signed a petition signaling their support for the bill. Unfortunately, that support fell on deaf ears, as committee members caved to cowardice, hiding behind the gross misinformation campaign of the Left. In front of a packed room, the Committee voted against religious liberty and should be held accountable by the 67% of Louisianans who back the bill. As our good friend, Louisiana Family Forum President Gene Mills said, “The Marriage and Conscience Act is not a sword but a shield” to protect the majority of voters who support natural marriage.

If anyone needs a shield on Election Day, it’s the 10 committee members who chose to stand against religious freedom. We thank Governor Jindal for his leadership on this bill and hope that he uses the power of his office to ensure that Louisianans remain free to follow their beliefs about marriage without fear of retaliation by the government.

Tools for the Trade

The Obama administration may not be doing much to stop religious persecution, but Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) is determined to. In the middle of a thorny trade debate, the freshman senator won the unanimous support of his chamber for an amendment that requires the President to consider religious liberty during trade agreements. “I’ve been told over and over again, ‘We don’t talk about religious freedom in our trade negotiations,” Lankford said. But he thinks the U.S. should “lead with our values and not sell out for a dollar the people who have been in bondage as a prisoner of conscience for years.” According to Lankford’s office, this would be the first time in history that religious liberty would be a mandatory part of international trade talks.

Two weeks after the U.S. Commission on International Religious Liberty slammed the country for not incorporating the issue into its foreign policy, Senator Lankford’s measure is one of the first meaningful steps in reversing that trend. Unfortunately, it’s a stark contrast to the Obama administration’s silence on religious liberty in all aspects of policy — at home and abroad. We applaud senators on both sides for filling the void left by this President and taking the plight of the persecuted seriously.


This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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