Planned Parenthood of Tennessee immediately denounced the bill. Although most doctors performing abortions in Tennessee do already have admitting privileges, the proposed new regulation would limit access to the procedure for many women, especially those in rural areas. Also, you can bet anti-abortion activists would rachet up pressure on hospitals to deny privileges to doctors who do abortions. It's all straight out of the pro-life playbook and already about to become the law in Mississippi, among other places.
“It could have a very chilling effect on women’s ability to access abortion care in some parts of the state,” Planned Parenthood’s Nashville CEO, Jeff Teague, told Pith.
Batting his eyes innocently, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Matthew Hill—an Obama birther and Christian right radio host—claimed his only thought was for the health and safety of women.
“Why are we doing this?” Rep. Gary Odom, D-Nashville, asked Hill. “We don’t require it for any other procedure that’s done in an ambulatory surgical center.”
“Quite frankly,” Hill replied, “some women have died from complications from abortions. We’ve seen that happen. I don’t want that to happen in Tennessee, and I know you don’t either. We want to make sure we have the safest environment possible. You asked what the bill is about? It’s about safety.”
Hill sprang the new regulation on the committee as an amendment to his legislation to require the state to publish online the names of doctors who do abortions in Tennessee. That bill drew outrage and criticism even from some fellow Republicans, who felt it would make these physicians vulnerable to attacks from anti-abortion zealots.
In a crazy diatribe to the committee, Hill played the victim card himself. We have no idea what he was talking about, but here’s what he said:
Today I represent the majority of Tennesseans with this legislation, people who are supporters of the culture of life. There are those who have used the power of reckless and false rhetoric to propel themselves to the national spotlight. They have appeared on national news programs spreading lies about me and about this bill and its intent. Not only have they used their 15 minutes of fame to slander my character on a national scale, they have vilified the good people of Tennessee who love and value life. This reckless disregard for the truth and their characterization of me as a terrorist, murderer and more has been used by their leftist friends to engender hatred and incite the threat of violence. This grandstanding recklessness by irresponsible individuals resulted in threats against me. I have referred those threats to proper authorities and some have requested protection for me from these who have been roused to violence by the actions of these irresponsible patrons of the culture of death.
“Look, let’s be clear,” Teague said. “This is a piece of legislation written by Tennessee Right to Life. They handed it to Representative Hill. The intent of this doesn’t have anything to do with patient safety or their health. It’s a way to put another regulation and restriction on abortion to make it difficult for women to access the care.”
Update: This MSNBC segment might have been the national news program that incurred the wrath of the mighty Matthew Hill.