After struggling to pass a six-week abortion ban earlier this year, Tennessee lawmakers are now considering one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country: a total ban on the procedure.
On Monday and Tuesday, the state’s judiciary committee will hear testimony from more than 20 witnesses and debate an 11-page amendment to its stalled “fetal heartbeat” bill. If the changes are adopted, the legislation will ban abortion once a woman knows she’s pregnant.
The committee, which has seven Republicans and two Democrats, is expected to accept the changes. The amended bill would be put up for a vote in January 2020, when the legislature reconvenes.
This week’s summer study comes as states have raced to pass legislation restricting abortion, hoping to challenge Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that protects access to the procedure. This year, six states — Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Ohio — passed so-called “heartbeat” bills, legislation that bans abortion after cardiac activity can be detected in a fetus. Missouri passed an eight-week ban in May, and Alabama went a step further passing a near-total abortion ban. . .
In Tennessee’s Senate, lawmakers, including Roberts, questioned whether “fetal heartbeat” bans were the best vehicle to dismantle the federal protections surrounding abortion. Late in the legislative session, the 11-page amendment was introduced to convert the bill from an effective six-week ban to a near-total abortion ban, providing exceptions only if the procedure would save the mother’s life or avert “serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function,” according to the amendment’s text. (Read more from “Tennessee to Push for Total Abortion Ban” HERE)