A bill on its way to Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s desk this week would protect unborn babies by banning abortions once Roe v. Wade is overturned.
The bill (SB 1257 / HB 1029), supported by Tennessee Right to Life, would restore full legal protections for unborn babies in Tennessee once the U.S. Supreme Court either fully or partially overturns Roe v. Wade. It would make abortions a felony in the state criminal code, but it would allow exceptions if the mother’s life is at risk. The felony charges would apply to abortionists but not pregnant mothers.
State Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mount Juliet, said her bill will prepare the state for the day when the U.S. Supreme Court finally recognizes that states should be allowed to protect unborn babies.
“When the U.S. Supreme Court again allows states to decide abortion policy again, we will be in a position to restore the common sense protection that express pro-life views and sentiments of Tennesseans,” Lynn said, according to Nashville Public Radio.
“We don’t have to apologize today. We have science on our side to say ‘that’s a life,'” said Rep. Andy Holt, a Republican from Dresden, who moments before joked he had a “minor in reproduction.” Holt later clarified his comments, saying he has six children with his wife currently pregnant with their seventh.
The so-called trigger ban would take effect within 30 days if the high court overturns Roe v. Wade. It includes exceptions for medical emergencies only, not for rape or incest. Doctors who violate the law would face a felony charge under the ban.
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Tennessee Lt. Gov. Randy McNally praised the vote in a statement, saying the bill is “landmark pro-life legislation.”
“With President Trump continuing to appoint conservative jurists and several active challenges moving through the courts, that day should not be far away,” McNally said.
A number of states are considering similar legislation this spring. In February, Arkansas became the fifth state to pass a law to immediately ban abortions if Roe is overturned. The others are Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota and South Dakota. Kentucky and Missouri also are considering bills to do the same thing.
The U.S. Supreme Court took away the states’ ability to protect unborn babies from abortion under Roe. The infamous case made the United States one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks. The ruling continues to prevent states from enforcing protections for the unborn, such as laws that ban abortions after an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable.
There is more hope that the new conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court may consider laws that ban abortions, but it is difficult to say if it would for certain – especially after Chief Justice John Roberts recently sided with the liberal justices on an abortion case.