Nashville: No license plate readers in imposing abortion ban

Sep 7, 2022, 1:53 PM | Updated: 2:05 pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Law enforcement in Nashville will be prohibited from using license plate readers to enforce Tennessee’s anti-abortion laws, city council members decided.

The move comes after Tennessee, which is politically controlled by Republicans, enacted one of the strictest abortion bans in the U.S. last month. Under the law, almost all abortions are outlawed and doctors who violate the statute risk felony convictions.

However, as with several left-leaning cities in Republican-dominated states, Nashville’s city council has attempted to push back on the ban.

On Tuesday, the council unanimously approved barring police and other law enforcement from using license plate readers that would assist with “enforcing laws outlawing abortion or outlawing interstate travel to obtain abortion.” The ordinance passed without any debate.

Although Tennessee’s GOP-controlled Legislature has not advanced legislation that would punish out-of-state travel to obtain an abortion, the idea has gained traction among some abortion opponents despite legal concerns.

“This city, no matter what the state law is and whatever gets criminalized elsewhere, will be going on record that we’re not going to engage and help in allowing our technology to be used to enforce whatever criminal laws might be passed related to choice and obtaining an abortion,” at-large council member Bob Mendes said when debating the ordinance in August.

The council has previously approved a resolution asking the police department to consider abortion investigations the “lowest priority.” The action is not legally binding, but Nashville’s police department has since issued a statement that it is not the “abortion police.”

The city’s district attorney, Glenn Funk, has also promised not to prosecute medical practitioners who perform an abortion nor any pregnant woman seeking the procedure.

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Nashville: No license plate readers in imposing abortion ban