Tennessee’s ‘Heartbeat Bill’ Gains Support From Top Republicans, Including Gov. Lee | Nashville Public Radio

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

Jan 30, 2019

A measure in the Tennessee House of Representatives that would ban abortions once a heartbeat has been detected has gained the support of Gov. Bill Lee.

The new governor said he’ll back any legislation that reduces the number of abortions, even if it takes the state to court.

The bill, carried by Rep. Micah Van Huss, R-Jonesborough, would ban abortions from the point a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can happen around six weeks into a pregnancy.

In 2017, the Tennessee "heartbeat bill" was considered "constitutionally suspect" by the Attorney General, and it ended up failing in a House subcommittee. Similar legislation in Iowa was recently struck down by a judge there, who ruled it was unconstitutional.

But Lee says the threat of a legal battle shouldn’t stop the state from passing laws.

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

The measure also has the support from the House and Senate Speakers. The bill currently lacks a Senate sponsor.

Francie Hunt, the executive director of Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood called the bill extreme and said it will end up costing the state money.

“I think there’s knowledge that this is something that’s going to end up going to courts and be unsuccessful," Hunt told WPLN.