Memphis City Council approves reproductive autonomy bill – Tennessee Lookout

(This story has been updated.)

The Memphis City Council on Tuesday passed a resolution calling reproductive autonomy a necessity as part of a broader effort by local elected officials to fight the state’s strict abortion laws.

Last week, a member of the Memphis City Council J.B. Smiley announced that he would introduce a resolution to discourage local law enforcement from prosecuting women or doctors who make reproductive health decisions.

Although the Memphis City Council does not have authority over the Shelby County Sheriff‘s Office or the District Attorney to prosecute abortion cases, Smiley aims to control line items for abortion-related cases. .

Local leaders are the last line of defense. If we don’t stand up for the people, who will?

– JB Smiley, Jr., Member of the Memphis City Council

“If and when the time is right, if we see a budget that shows that resources are allocated for the continuation of health care professionals who are trying to help women through this difficult time in their lives, and we see resources allocated to find and arrest women for making reproductive health care decisions, we take them out, Smiley said.

However, there is no budget that provides resources for such arrests, as the city’s budget was passed before the United States Supreme Court ruled in the Dobbs v. Jackson case on June 24. , sending abortion decisions to individual states.

Smiley, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor, also said that if elected governor, he will seek to decriminalize abortion in Tennessee.

“(Governor Bill Lee) has to mind his own business,” he added.

This is not the first time council members have voted against state-imposed legislation. In 2021, Governor Bill Lee signed into law a statewide ban on mask mandates, prohibiting county mayors, school boards, and other government officials from requiring masks unless COVID-19 infections not increase exponentially.

In response, the Shelby County Board of Health mandated masks in public and private schools and was criticized by the governor.

“Local leaders are the last line of defense,” Smiley said. “If we don’t stand up for the people, who will?

Memphis City Council attorney Allan Wade agreed with Smiley’s interpretation of the council’s authority.

Smiley also referred to the high rates of gun violence in the state, with Memphis having one of the highest homicide rates in the nation.

“We have other priorities,” he said.