Republican lawmakers in Tennessee introduced a bill this week that would add a rape exception to the state’s near-total abortion ban—with the caveat that those who “lie” about being raped to access abortion care could be sentenced to up to three years in prison. The bill, which Jessica Valenti first surfaced in her abortion news newsletter on Tuesday, would also require rape victims who do receive abortion care (which they can only get after an invasive forensic exam) to preserve and submit “a sample of the embryonic or fetal tissue extracted during the abortion” to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for “investigation into the offense.”
From a purely academic/public policy standpoint, this is how regulating abortion is supposed to work. It is not a federal issue, so individual states are experimenting with how they want to regulate abortion according to their local norms and values. It is interesting to see all of the variations.
From a policy standpoint, why wouldn’t lying about being raped carry a criminal charge? Lying to police and falsely alleging rape already carries criminal charges in most states – as it should. It eats up a tremendous amount of taxpayer resources to investigate the alleged rape and often casts the eye of suspicion on innocent men.