Tennessee Senate Passes Bill to Ban Late-Term Abortions on Unborn Babies

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   May 2, 2017   |   10:21AM   |   Nashville, TN

A Tennessee bill to prohibit abortions on viable, late-term babies passed the state Senate Monday with strong support.

The Tennessee Infants Protection Act would protect viable, late-term unborn babies from abortion in the state. It would prohibit abortions at 24 weeks, and require abortion clinics to assess whether an unborn child is viable starting at 20 weeks. If the unborn baby is determined to be viable at that point, that abortion also would be illegal. Doctors could face felony charges for violating the law.

The Tennessean reports the bill passed the Senate in a 27-3 vote on Monday, while abortion activists protested at the capital. It now moves to the state House for a vote.

The sponsor, state Sen. Joey Hensley, is a medical doctor and a Republican, according to the Times Free Press. He said the bill will protect viable, late-term babies in the womb from being aborted.

“We want every child that has a chance at life to have a chance,” Hensley said Monday.

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Here’s more from the report:

Senate leaders said late last week when the bill was delayed that they felt the measure would stand up in court, despite concerns from state Attorney General Herbert Slatery that the measure was “constitutionally suspect.” Slatery said last week that he would defend the proposed law even with the concerns.

Gov. Bill Haslam told reporters on Monday that he would consider a veto when the legislation gets to his desk.

“We will see,” Haslam said. “When it gets to us, we’ll have those conversations both with the Attorney General our own review of the bill before we make our decision.”

Brian Harris, president of Tennessee Right to Life, the state’s oldest and largest pro-life organization, previously said they are confident that the legislation will pass and protect unborn babies.

“Our legislature and governor are overwhelmingly pro-life and they favor doing everything possible to protect vulnerable life,” Harris told LifeNews last week. “The Infants Protection Act has been passed in other states without legal challenge and it is the natural next step toward building full legal protection for unborn children in Tennessee. We look forward to its passage and enforcement.”

Planned Parenthood advocates in Tennessee claimed the bill is “unconstitutional,” but quite a few other states already have laws in effect that prohibit abortions after the 20- to 24-week point.

Currently, 16 states prohibit abortions after 20 weeks when strong scientific evidence indicates unborn babies can feel pain. Only a few have faced legal challenges. A number of others prohibit abortions at 24 weeks – generally accepted as the point when unborn babies are viable outside the womb.

A few states still allow abortions for any reason up until birth. Late-term abortion practices are operating legally in New Mexico, Maryland, Colorado and California.