Aaron Gulbransen: Affirmative Defense Removed from Abortion Trigger Ban, Expected to Pass Resoundingly in Senate Next Week

Mar 21, 2023

Live from Music Row, Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed all-star panelist Aaron Gulbransen in studio to discuss Tennessee Faith and Freedom Coalition goals and the expected swift passage of modified abortion trigger ban in Senate next week.

Leahy: We welcome in studio, the official guest host of The Tennessee Star Report and all-star panelist, Aaron Gulbransen and also the Tennessee state director of the Faith and Freedom Coalition. How much longer do you anticipate the Tennessee General Assembly will remain in session?

Gulbransen: Everybody tells me probably the first week in May.

Leahy: We’ve got probably, what, five or six more weeks left, right?

Gulbransen: Yes.

Leahy: These sessions have an ebb and flow to them, right?

Gulbransen: They do, especially at the beginning, right? You’re, they’re not doing a lot on Mondays. Then, as of late, they do a lot on Mondays, but they’re typically not in session on Fridays. And they have their floor. This will expand as it goes on, but, they’ve typically had their floor sessions early in the morning on Thursdays in both Houses, and they get out of town.

Leahy: They did. I think they accomplished a lot early on with the prohibition of gender mutilation for those under the age of 18 and with the bill that prohibited sexually suggestive public shows where kids attended adult cabaret shows on public property.

Gulbransen: Adult cabaret shows on public property and also where children may be.

Leahy: They got that done.

Gulbransen: For those of you lefties in the audience, because there’s so many of you, I say sarcastically, listening to this show, the talking points on the left have been just so bizarre on SB 3.

Leahy: SB 3 being…

Gulbransen: The adult cabaret show ban on public property. And in front of kids they’ve tried to twist it and say, oh, you’re banning drag shows. You can’t do Shakespeare in the park anymore. And it’s just ridiculous empty rhetoric.
And of course, by revving up their people, the General Assembly got flooded based on that. And that, of course, was Senate Majority leader Jack Johnson’s bill. He’s had a great session. He was on the two bills we just mentioned; he was the Senate prime sponsor.

There is also legislation he sponsored passed that made some protections against government overreach on COVID, permanent. Which obviously is very important to me and most of us listening.

It was a good session for Leader Johnson. Of course, on the adult cabaret show ban, Chris Todd in the House deserves a lot of credit too.

Leahy: Chris has emerged as quite a leader there. There are a couple of other bills out there, though. There’s this controversial bill but it shouldn’t be controversial, but the proposal to make the Duck River a scenic river.

Apparently, there is a group that wants to turn parts near the Duck River in Maury County into a landfill. That’s turned out to be fairly contentious. I don’t know if you’ve tracked that particular one.

Gulbransen: No, because unfortunately, the Tennessee Faith and Freedom have nothing to do with that, those sorts of issues.

Leahy: Good point. So here’s my take on the Tennessee General Assembly right now. I think it started off very strongly. And now in part because of the controversy surrounding Lieutenant Governor McNally, it seems to be bogging down toward the end. Your thoughts?

Gulbransen: I think so. I think they were so hot and heavy and got a lot accomplished very quickly that it’s at the point where, okay, where do we go? Or a lot of the very important issues they’re working on, they’re not getting a lot of media attention.

Last night the House passed with 83 votes in favor of the modification of the state’s abortion trigger ban. Ultimately after a lot of public pressure and a lot of work by a lot of different people, a very narrow modification was made. They removed the affirmative defense clause in there. For those of you who don’t know what that means…

Leahy: Add me to that list. (Chuckles)

Gulbransen: You’ll see this in a lot of legislation and laws on the books in the state, especially on gun carry laws. It’s basically as some would say, an arcane way of saying you can’t do this except X, Y, and Z. And if you find yourself being charged this is your affirmative defense. I’m trying to think of an analogy that isn’t inflammatory here, but, if you are…

Leahy: Oh, you can be inflammatory.

Gulbransen: If for some reason you have to go speed really quickly because you’re in fear for your life and you get pulled over and you get a ticket and you can go to court and explain affirmatively. Yes, sir. Yes, I was speeding. But it’s because such and such was chasing after me with a gun. That’s affirmative. That’s an affirmative defense.

Leahy: That bill has passed the House now pretty resoundingly.

Gulbransen: Yes.

Leahy: Where is it on the state Senate side?

Gulbransen: I think you’ll see action next week.

Leahy: And you anticipate that bill will pass in the state Senate?

Gulbransen: I think it will. It’s on the Senate judiciary calendar today. It’ll probably sail through that and then you’ll see probably a floor vote next week.

Leahy: What’s the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s view on that bill?

Gulbransen: We are far happier with it than the original intent of it.

Leahy: That is a very qualified answer.

Gulbransen: In the beginning, it was far broader and it was all over the place. But we’re much happier with what it is now.

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Background Photo “Tennessee Senate” by Tennessee General Assembly.