Tennessee Bill Could Put Abortion Doctors at Risk


There's a new bill in the Tennessee House of Representatives, and its seemingly innocuous name is rather misleading. The "Life Defense Act of 2012" (H.B. 3308) would require the Tennessee Department of Health to publish way more information on abortions and on the doctors that provide them.

Here's why that's a problem, in case it's not obvious: abortion doctors are at risk from radical anti-abortion activists. The Raw Story points to anti-abortion "Wanted" posters by a group called Operation Save America, as well as past murders of abortion doctors.

Scott Roeder, a 53-year-old anti-abortion activist, was sentenced to life in prison in 2010 for the murder of Dr. George Tiller in a Kansas church. Officials later investigated whether the killing was connected to an underground network of radical anti-abortion activists who promote violence against women's health clinics.

But the bill doesn't just affect doctors. The "Life Defense Act of 2012" would also have the Department of Health publish more detailed statistics on Tennessee abortions, including the woman's age, race, marital status, and the number of times she has been pregnant. Theoretically, women receiving abortions would not be named, but that doesn't mean they'd remain anonymous.

While the bill's proponents point to language in the legislative text that protects the identity of each patient, critics argue that the enhanced statistics reporting could be used to identify women who've had abortions in small, rural communities.

H.B. 3308 was authored by Rep. Matthew Hill at the suggestion of the anti-abortion group Tennessee Right to Life. A House committee will vote on the bill Wednesday.

[Image via AP]