Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam today signed a pro-life bill to ban late-term abortions in Tennessee.
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 bill strengthens protections for unborn children and abortion-vulnerable women and girls by preventing elective abortions, except in rare instances, after an unborn child is determined to be viable (able to survive with or without medical assistance.) The provision also establishes a presumption of viability at 24 weeks of pregnancy (LMP) and requires a medical assessment to gauge viability of any unborn child when an abortion is sought beginning at 20 weeks of gestational age.
“I have reviewed the final language of SB 1180/HB 1189 and its potential impact,” Haslam’s signing statement said. Here’s more:
“The Tennessee Infants Protection Act prohibits purposely performing post-viability abortions, except when a physician determines in his or her good faith medical judgment that either the unborn child is not viable or that the procedure is necessary to prevent serious risk to the mother.
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“Rather than being a ’20-week abortion ban,’ as some have described it, the bill requires physicians to assess viability beginning at 20 weeks gestational age, absent a medical emergency.”
Haslam noted that Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery has said he would defend the law.
Moreover, Haslam said, the U.S. Supreme Court “has not yet decided the mental health exception issue discussed in the Attorney General’s opinion. For those reasons, I have signed this legislation into law.”
The statewide pro-life group Tennessee Right to Life told LifeNews it was delighted by the news.
“Tennessee Right to Life thanks Governor Haslam for his demonstrated commitment to doing everything possible constitutionally to defend and protect vulnerable unborn children,” said Brian Harris, the organization’s president. “His administration has been tireless in supporting common-sense measures which affirm the dignity human life in our state and pro-life Tennesseans are clearly very grateful to the Governor,” Harris said.
Earlier this month, the pro-life measure was overwhelmingly passed by the state Senate 27-3 and in the state House 69-18. The Tennessee Infant Protection Act will take effect July 1, 2017.