The Tennessee Senate passed legislation on Monday that would allow a monument to “victims of abortion” to be placed on the grounds of the state capitol.
The Associated Press reports that the bill, sponsored by Republican Representative Jerry Sexton and Senator Steve Southerland, passed the Tennessee Senate in a 23-3 vote and will now head back to House. The House overwhelmingly passed a version of the legislation last week following an animated floor debate, and is expected to pass the bill with the Senate’s amendment before sending it to Republican Governor Bill Haslam.
According to the bill, HB 2381, the monument must be “funded by non-state sources,” but suggests that it be placed on “Capitol ground on completion.” As of yet, there is no design for the “memorial to the unborn,” and the bill requires the State Capitol Commission to “solicit input from the public and other interested parties for purposes of developing the plan, including proposed design concepts for the memorial.” Though the design of the yet-to-be-built monument has been left to the public, HB 2381 requires that the memorial be named the “Tennessee Monument to Unborn Children.” Additionally, it must include the inscription: “Tennessee Monument to Unborn Children, In Memory of the Victims of Abortion: Babies, Women, and Men.”
When the measure was introduced in March, Representative Bill Dunn compared the monument to the slavery and the Holocaust memorials that currently sit on the Capitol. “Both of these monuments that are already here recognize the atrocities occurred because human beings were treated as less than human,” Dunn said, the Memphis Daily reported. He added that slavery and the Holocaust are comparable to abortion since, in all three 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 noted that the monument was not simply for “the baby,” but for other victims of abortion, including women, “brothers and sisters,” fathers “who can’t protect their unborn children,” and “society.”
Haslam has not indicated whether or not he will sign the bill. If the monument is constructed it would become the second memorial to the “unborn” in Tennessee, though the first on public land. In 1994, the National Memorial for the Unborn was constructed in Chattanooga.