The Tennessee Senate early Friday passed a broad abortion-restrictions bill, including a fetal heartbeat provision, that is on course to become law after stalling earlier this session amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Republican Gov. Bill Lee had previously championed the bill, and it found new life in budget negotiations between the House and Senate, with the Senate voting on it just after midnight along party lines, the Tennessean reported.
In addition to a six-week heartbeat ban, the law would ban sex- or race-based abortions, abortions based on a Down syndrome diagnosis, and abortions on juveniles in custody of the Department of Children’s Services.
Franklin Graham applauded the bill’s passage on Facebook.
“This life-saving measure was proposed by Gov. Bill Lee. I applaud him and the legislators for their work. Let’s pray together that other states will do the same. Every life is a precious gift from God, created in His image. The Word of God says, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you …’ (Jeremiah 1:5).”
The bill includes an exception if a woman’s life is in danger, and abortion clinics must post signage in waiting rooms and treatment areas informing the public that chemical abortion attempts can be reversed in early stages. If clinics refuse to post the notice, they may face a $10,000 fine. Additionally, abortionists are required to disclose to the mother the gestational age of the unborn baby, its dimensions, and offer her an opportunity to hear the fetal heartbeat and to see ultrasound images. Doctors who attempt the prohibited abortions would face a Class C felony.
Abortion advocates have promised to challenge the bill in court. Several other states have had six-week abortion bans blocked by the courts. Mississippi’s law was the first among them to reach the federal appellate level, where it was struck down earlier this year.
If Tennessee’s law is struck down in court, the bill is set to automatically enact abortion bans beginning at eight weeks and proceeding incrementally up to 24 weeks of gestation if needed.
“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,” Lee said in a Friday tweet.