Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee promised Tuesday to do “whatever it takes” to defend unborn babies from a lawsuit filed by several prominent pro-abortion groups.
On Monday, the pro-life Republican signed a broad pro-life law to protect unborn babies from abortions once their heartbeats are detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy. However, a judge blocked the law just 45 minutes later after Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights sued.
Responding to the lawsuit, Lee said he is committed to defending the law in court, the AP reports.
“It’s very important that we defend and protect the lives of every Tennessean, one portion of the most vulnerable being the unborn,” he said Tuesday during a press conference. “That’s why we would make that decision to defend it.”
In answer to a question about legal costs, Lee said they will defend the pro-life law “whatever it takes in court,” according to the report.
Pro-abortion groups were overly anxious to stop Tennessee from saving unborn babies’ lives. They filed the lawsuit in June while the legislation was still a bill, and a judge initially told the groups that their challenge was premature, according to WBIR.
After Lee signed the law, however, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking the state from enforcing it.
In a statement afterward, Ashley Coffield, CEO of Planned Parenthood Tennessee and North Mississippi, claimed the ruling was a victory for “all of our patients.”
But the abortion chain does not consider unborn babies patients even though they are unique, living human beings. Many believe it does not truly care about women either. About a year ago, Tennessee Planned Parenthood employees went public with their concerns about the abortion chain putting money ahead of patients’ well-being. According to the Nashville Scene, their concerns included a potential health hazard: “new management stopped providing doctors with sterile gloves and, staffers say, wanted to use small plastic drinking cups for urine samples.”
Though the new pro-life legislation is described as a heartbeat bill, it includes many different measures to protect unborn babies and mothers. The law passed the state legislature in June, and pro-life lawmakers said they wrote the bill to withstand a legal challenge.
The heartbeat portion of the bill prohibits abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy. It also includes other levels of restriction going up from eight weeks to 24 weeks of pregnancy, which would go into effect depending on what a court may strike down, the report states.
The bill also bans discriminatory abortions based on the unborn baby’s sex, race or a Down syndrome diagnosis. It allows exceptions if the mother’s life is at risk. Abortionists who violate these bans could face felony charges.
The pro-life legislation includes informed consent measures as well. It requires abortion facilities to inform women about the abortion pill reversal procedure and the size and gestational age of their unborn babies. It also requires abortion facilities to allow the mother to hear her unborn baby’s heartbeat and see the baby on an ultrasound.
Lee said Tennesseans support protections for unborn babies, and the lawmakers whom they elected worked hard to pass the legislation.
“Life is precious and everything that is precious is worthy of protecting,” Lee said Monday. “It’s our responsibility to protect the most vulnerable in our community, and certainly the most vulnerable in Tennessee includes the unborn.”
But Jessica Sklarsky, senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, slammed the law as unconstitutional.
“Tennessee should stop attacking reproductive healthcare and instead work to implement policies that will help marginalized communities. This law does the exact opposite,” Sklarsky said.
The pro-life legislation could save tens of thousands of unborn babies’ lives and protect their mothers, but the success of the heartbeat ban against a legal challenge is uncertain.
Some pro-lifers hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold an abortion ban and overturn Roe v. Wade. Others, however, are hesitant because of concerns about losing the court battle and being forced to reimburse pro-abortion groups for their legal fees.
The Supreme Court took away the states’ ability to protect unborn babies from abortion under Roe v. Wade, and instead allowed abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy. Roe made the United States one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks.