By Cara Palmer
A new anti-abortion bill in Tennessee would "require the state to publish the names of each doctor who performs an abortion, and detailed statistics about the women having the procedure," according to the Huffington Post.
The demographic information the bill would force the Tennessee Department of Health to make public includes: a woman's age, race, county, marital status, education level, number of children, the location of the procedure, how many times she has been pregnant and the name of the doctor who performed the procedure.
Does anyone remember the murder of a Kansas doctor a few years ago, because he conducted abortion procedures? An anti-abortion activist killed him in 2009, and his name was Dr. George Tiller. He was a person, and someone who was upset that he was taking a potential life, killed him. No matter that this doctor undoubtedly provided health services other than abortion, no matter that abortion is legal, no matter that women have a right to choose what happens to their own bodies, no matter that sometimes abortion is necessary to save a woman's life.
Speaking of women, does publicizing the above "demographic information" concern anyone? Because it concerns me. It should not be difficult for anti-abortion activists to figure out the identities of the women aborting their unborn children and harass them -- maybe even harm them. News flash: grown women are people, too, and they have a right to life -- hell, they are alive, and no one has a right to take that away from them.
Do the Tennessee legislators backing this bill really want to get these women and doctors killed? Ironically, the bill is called the Life Defense Act of 2012, even though it gives anti-abortion activists the information they need to take lives away. Murder may not be the most frequent result of this bill, but I wouldn't be surprised if these women and doctors are, at the very least, intimidated into making choices that negatively affect their own health and the health of other women. News flash number two: some women get abortions because their own lives are endangered by the pregnancy, and if qualified doctors aren't there to provide them a service that would save their lives, what do you think is going to happen?
The only justification for the bill given by its sponsor earlier this month was, "I think it's fair for folks on both sides to see how prevalent abortion is in our counties and in our communities." You can do that without publicizing specific information about the doctors giving abortions and the women getting them, Rep. Hill.
Jeff Teague, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood in Middle and Eastern Tennessee, stated:
"We live in an environment where there is a lot of violence against abortion providers, clinics, and clinic staff... We've had physicians who provide abortion care murdered in the past few years. This is an attempt to intimidate physicians who provide abortion care and the women who seek abortions and to terrorize them."
Even if the bill is just a scare tactic to prevent abortion services from being administered, the consequences of divulging the information the bill proposes to release are too dangerous to ignore.
This bill comes in the midst of a tornado of other anti-abortion bills, including Virginia's forced trans-vaginal ultrasound bill, later amended to a less-invasive-but-still-forced trans-abdominal ultrasound bill, which dictates that a woman undergo this procedure at least 24 hours before having an abortion, and Georgia's new proposal to make it illegal for women to get an abortion after 20 weeks even if the fetus is stillborn or dying inside her womb, which would force women to carry these fetuses to term -- just like "cows and pigs" do, as Representative Terry England explained.
The Tennessee anti-abortion bill is yet another assault on women's rights, because yes, they are rights ever since the Supreme Court decided so in Roe v. Wade. This country has had this argument already. Why does it need to have it again? Women have a right to choose what happens to their own bodies, especially when it comes to reproduction.
The Tennessee House will vote on the bill today. Too bad it's likely to pass. If I were a woman living in Tennessee, I'd leave the state. Trouble is, where would I go? Too many other states are fighting the same battle.
This post originally appeared on Neon Tommy.