Abortion Rights Advocates Say Tennessee's ‘Heartbeat Bill’ Appears To Have Momentum | Nashville Public Radio

Abortion Rights Advocates Say Tennessee's ‘Heartbeat Bill’ Appears To Have Momentum

Feb 25, 2019

A Tennessee House committee is expected to consider a bill Tuesday that would ban abortions once a heartbeat has been detected.

Abortion rights advocates fear the measure has more momentum than similar legislation introduced two years ago. That bill didn’t move forward after it was deemed “constitutionally suspect” by the state's attorney general. 

The current bill by Rep. Micah Van Huss, R-Jonesborough, has 60 co-sponsors so far between the Tennessee House and Senate. The high number of supporters is an indicator that the measure has a chance of moving through in the General Assembly.

More: Tennessee’s ‘Heartbeat Bill’ Gains Support From Top Republicans, Including Gov. Lee

But Rep. London Lamar, D-Memphis, believes the bill is unconstitutional.

“For a state that brags about being fiscally conservative, this bill would drag the state into legal fights and cause us taxpayers to spend tons and tons of money in the courts," Lamar told reporters Monday.

Lamar also calls the measure inhumane, because it doesn’t create an exemption for victims of rape or incest.

Gov. Bill Lee told reporters last month that he wouldn't oppose an abortion bill simply because it may be challenged in the courts.

“I’d look at the legislation itself and whether or not I think it’s one that I’m in favor of," he said. "And then the courts will have to decide for themselves whether it’s constitutional or not.” 

A similar bill in 2017 was rejected by the anti-abortion group Tennessee Right to Life, which has yet to make public their position this year.

Of the 60 co-sponsors of the new measure, all of them are Republicans, only 5 are women.