Based on the opinion issued by Slatery, many are questioning if various parts of the bill will be considered unconstitutional. With no proof that a doctor was being reckless or had guilty knowledge, the statute imposes possible criminal liability, even when a doctor is doing what’s in the best interest of the patient through medical necessity or emergency.
Doctors who are discovered to have committed an abortion in violation of the law can be charged with a Class C felony. They would be subjected to a Class A misdemeanor by not carrying out the viability testing requirement.
According to Tennessee Right to Life attorney Paul Linton, the amended bill would ensure that no doctor would face criminal charges if it’s been deemed to be in good faith.
However, that’s not comforting to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Group state chapter lobbyist Beth Berry said disagreements could become an issue because there’s no conclusive viability test available. It also means doctors could face potential lawsuits and legal actions. She said experts might disagree if an abortion is an emergency or medical necessity – it’s all subjective. It’s a real concern, she said, for doctors because they don’t know what the conclusive viability tests are.
The bill is set for a Senate vote this week. On Tuesday, it passed through a House committee and looks to be voted on soon in that chamber. The legislation appears to be moving on, even though Slatery decided to dismiss two other abortions limitations due to a court challenge on the constitutionality.