Last month, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed a pro-life bill to ban late-term abortions in Tennessee. Today he and pro-life leaders held a ceremonial bill signing at Legislative Plaza.
The Tennessee Infants Protection Act (SB 1180 / HB 1189) establishes a presumption of fetal viability beginning at 24 weeks gestation and prohibits abortion except in medical emergencies once viability has been confirmed. The new legislation also requires a medical assessment for fetal viability before an abortion may be performed on unborn children at least 20 weeks old.
Tennessee Right to Life celebrates the bill’s passage. “Tennessee is a pro-life state and Tennesseans strongly support common sense public policies that affirm and protect human life,” said Brian Harris, the organization’s president.”
The group told LifeNews: “We thank the Legislature and Governor Haslam for their exceptional leadership in supporting laws that build and strengthen a culture of life in our communities, state and nation.”
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.
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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.
“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.”