‘Save more babies’: Tennessee legislature OKs bill banning abortions after heartbeat can be detected

Conservatives are celebrating a victory for life this week.

The Guardian reports that Republicans have successfully pushed a bill through the Tennessee state legislature that would “ban abortion as early as six weeks after conception.”

According to Fox News, Tennessee’s Republican governor, Bill Lee, has indicated that he intends to sign the bill, which passed the state Senate 23–5 on Friday in what the Nashville Tennessean described as a late-night “party-line vote.”

A victory for life

The bill prohibits physicians from performing abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which, according to The Guardian, “is typically between six and eight weeks after conception.”

According to the Tennessean, abortions also prohibited under the new law “if the doctor knows that the woman is seeking an abortion because of the child’s sex or race” and “if the doctor knows the woman is seeking an abortion due to to a diagnosis of Down syndrome.”

The Tennessean notes that “while there is an exception to the restrictions if a woman’s life is in danger, there are no exceptions for rape or incest.” There also are no exceptions “for juveniles in custody of the Department of Children’s Services,” the Tennessean reports.

“Save more babies”

Republicans in the state have made clear that their focus is on protecting the lives of the unborn. As The Guardian reported, the bill also requires doctors to perform an ultrasound and forces women to view images of the fetus and to listen to cardiac activity before being allowed to move forward with the procedure.

Those requirements are likely to drive up the cost of an abortion in the state. According to Nashville-based Democrat state Sen. Brenda Gilmore, this means poorer women will get the short end of the stick. “Poor mothers, we’re going to be pushing them into the alleys like it was years and years ago and still endangering them,” she told the Tennessean.

Republicans, however, say that isn’t the idea at all. “Hopefully we can protect more lives, we can save more babies,” Republican state Rep. Susan Lynn told a local news outlet, according to The Guardian.

“The most vulnerable”

Of course, members of the GOP didn’t ignore that the new legislation would likely be challenged in court. Similar laws have already been shot down in states like Mississippi and Ohio, the Tennessean notes, and according to Fox, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has already vowed to challenge the new law — but Republicans put in a fail-safe. The Tennessean reported:

If the courts strike down the six-week ban, in conjunction with the detection of a fetal heartbeat, the legislation goes on to automatically enact abortion bans at eight, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23 and 24 weeks of gestation.

For his part, Republican Gov. Lee says this is a huge step in protecting both American families and “the rights of the most vulnerable in our state.”

“We have passed the strongest pro-life law in our state’s history,” he touted in a tweet Friday, according to Fox. “One of the most important things we can do to be pro-family is to protect the rights of the most vulnerable in our state, and there is none more vulnerable than the unborn.”

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