A bill approving a memorial to the unborn was passed by the Tennessee Senate on Monday by a 23-3 vote.
If approved, the memorial will be privately funded but erected on the state’s capitol grounds, and will include the inscription: “Tennessee Monument to Unborn Children, In Memory of the Victims of Abortion: Babies, Women, and Men.”
The bill, HB 2381, is sponsored by Republican legislators Rep. Jerry Sexton and Sen. Steve Southerland and was first introduced in March.
Tennessee has some of the strongest pro-life laws in the nation, including legislation requiring women to receive in-person informed consent counseling, a 48-hour waiting period prior to getting an abortion, hospital admitting privileges for abortion doctors, and parental consent for teen abortions.
In 2014, the legislature passed a pro-life state constitutional amendment which says:
rn"Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother."
The amendment is currently being challenged in federal court.
If passed, the proposed monument will be the second such memorial to the unborn in the state of Tennessee. In 1994, the National Memorial for the Unborn was built in Chattanooga on the site of a closed abortion clinic. It is “dedicated to healing generations of pain associated with the loss of aborted and miscarried children” and includes a wall of names “where anyone who has lost a baby to abortion may come to honor their child and find forgiveness, hope, and healing.”
When the bill for the new memorial was first introduced, state Rep. Bill Dunn said the monument is in the same vein as other memorials to African slaves or victims of the Holocaust, which also “recognize the atrocities occurred because human beings were treated as less than human,” he said, according to Memphis Daily News.
“In both cases, the vulnerable and defenseless were subjected to the will of the powerful. The taking of life of the baby in the womb is related to this brand of inhumanity,” Dunn added.
“While the baby can be seen as the obvious victim, this memorial will also be for other victims, the women coerced into abortion, the fathers who can’t protect their unborn child, the brothers and sisters who lose a sibling and the society as a whole who becomes coarsened because life is cheapened.”
A version of HB 2381 passed the Tennessee House last week by a 63-15 vote. It will now be sent back to the House for approval of amendments before heading to the desk of Tennessee governor Bill Haslam (R).