Tennessee state House passes ‘fetal heartbeat’ abortion ban
The Tennessee House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday that would outlaw abortions in the state after a fetus has a detectable heartbeat.
The Tennessean reported that a number of state Republican lawmakers expressed reservations about the bill in its current form, but ultimately voted for it. The legislation passed 66-21.
The bill would become one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the nation should it be signed into law, but it reportedly has not been scheduled to be taken up by a state Senate committee.
Protesters arrived at the state Capitol prior to the beginning of the House session on Thursday to speak out against the bill, the news outlet reported.
Opponents of “fetal heartbeat” abortion bills note that a fetus’s heartbeat is generally detectable at around six weeks, which can be before a woman even knows she is pregnant.
The Tennessee vote comes one day after a Georgia House committee voted to pass a similar measure. The Georgia measure would include exemptions for cases of rape and incest or if the mother’s life is at risk, but that bill must still be taken up by the full state House and Senate.
A “fetal heartbeat” measure signed into law in Iowa was struck down as unconstitutional by the courts in January. Polk County District Judge Michael Huppert wrote in his ruling that “a woman’s right to decide whether to terminate a pregnancy is a fundamental right under the Iowa Constitution.”
And another such bill has been a subject of controversy in Ohio, where former Gov. John Kasich (R) vetoed it. State lawmakers then reintroduced a “heartbeat” bill late last year after newly elected Gov. Mike DeWine (R) said he would sign it.