As he announced a major change Tuesday, the House sponsor of a controversial abortion bill on Tennessee's Capitol Hill revealed Wednesday that he has been the subject of wide-ranging death threats.
Rep. Matthew Hill told Nashville's News 2 that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is looking into the death threats that he said began about a week ago.
“It happened after the national media kind of twisted what my bill was actually doing,” he explained.
In response, the lawmaker fired back at those in the national media he said claimed he wanted women harmed and doctors murdered.
“I would never ever, ever want that to happen. That was never the intent of my legislation. I was shocked to hear that, read that [and] hear that on my email in various forms.” said Rep. Hill outside the committee room.
TBI spokesperson Kristin Helm told Nashville's News they are aware of the threats.
“We are aware of it and monitoring it,” she said.
Hill said he believes the national media distorted the intent of the bill, estimating that “98%” of the negative response has come from “outside Tennessee.”
Word of the death threats came as Rep. Hill withdrew a controversial part of the proposal that critics said would have resulted in the online publication of the names of doctors who perform abortions and statistical information about women who undergo them.
Those critics said it had the potential to inadvertently identify women who have had an abortion and they expressed fear that publishing the names of the doctors on the Internet would put them in danger.
Hill adamantly denied that was the intent of the bill.
The amendment Hill introduced Wednesday strips the bill of allowing access to the information the Tennessee Department of Health gathers.
Left intact was the second major part of the bill that requires doctors to register for admitting privileges at hospitals near where they perform abortions.
Nashville Democrat Gary Sodom warned that the bill singles out one particular medical procedure.
“I think you are going to have some constitutional problems with this amendment because you are identifying a specific procedure,” he told the House committee that approved the changes.
He added it still looks like a bill meant to intimidate those who might want or perform an abortion.
“We are selecting abortion procedures and I think there is another goal here,” he suggested to the committee.
Rep. Hill shot back, “It's about a woman's safety.”
Authorities said they will continue to monitor any threats against Hill.
- March 20, 2012: Abortion bill aims to create online publication of doctors