Tennessee Goes Medieval With House Bill 0002

Fashionable Beauty (Detail: St. Dorothy) c. 1500 Tennessee’s Amendment One passed less than two weeks ago and already State Representative Rick Womick has introduced a bill to delay women’s access to healthcare.

Just in case you missed it: Tennessee’s state constitutional Amendment One has taken away women’s freedom to make decisions about our own bodies privately and independent of government interference. Now, HB-0002 wants to require women seeking abortions to submit to a preliminary ultrasound, hear descriptions of if not view images, and listen to heartbeats before returning another day for another appointment.

If the recently and narrowly passed Amendment One strips us of privacy, freedom, and access, HB-0002 suggests we’re not fit even to look at our bodies without assistance. Forcing women to yield to ultrasounds before abortions suggests that women on our own cannot properly see ourselves. HB-0002 demands that others describe to us, “in a manner understandable to a layperson,” our own bodies.

So before they can choose, women will lie on an examination table while the state looks on. And in. Here, the male gaze gets clinical.

HB-0002 is, in its thinking, a backlash. A really big backlash. The bill claims that women, unable to be trusted with decisions of consequence, must rely instead on authority figures for guidance. This kind of attempt to restrict women’s rights to our own bodies suggests we’ve returned to the middle ages, when men righteously controlled women because our passionate natures just couldn’t summon rationality like our male counterparts.

No offense to medieval times. Jousting, universities, and Dante’s Inferno are all very cool. But returning to a cultural belief that women must be regulated because we’re not ethical or intelligent enough to control ourselves and our destinies is absurb.

As a piece of writing, HB-0002 denies logic and disrespects hundreds of years of human achievement. As a piece of legislature, HB-0002 disrespects American values like privacy, independence, and equality.

Tennesseans, please oppose this bill that promises to shame rather than save us. You can find your state representatives here.

The rest of you, act preemptively. Point to Tennessee and tell your local officials that our recent legislature is not what you want.

Please be vocal. Rather than letting a few Tennesseans shame women, shame the legislators who try to limit women’s privacy and freedom. Because Tennessee isn’t so very far away from your state. We should all be afraid of what’s coming next.

Don’t sit quietly while legislation like ours seeps into your state, too. Engage in conversation about a woman’s right to choose. Want to practice? Start here, in the comments section below:

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