June 22, 2020

Tennessee Legislature Passes Bill Banning Abortion after Heartbeat Detection or for Discriminatory Reasons

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee
In the early hours of Friday morning last week, the Tennessee Senate passed House Bill 2263. If signed into law by pro-life Gov. Bill Lee, who has already voiced his support of the legislation, it would ban both the abortion of children who have detectable heartbeats and the abortion of children due to their race, sex, or diagnosis with Down syndrome.

The bill also requires physicians to take several steps to inform women about their unborn children before they complete an abortion. Women who complete abortions will need to confirm that physicians offered to show them ultrasound images of their children and let them listen to their heartbeats if they are detectable. This may sound confusing since the bill already bans the abortion of children with detectable heartbeats, but the bill was cleverly designed with layers of protection for the unborn that will hopefully remain standing if certain elements of the legislation don't survive in court. The ACLU has already stated that it plans to challenge the law, so the additional protections may prove necessary.

According to The Tennessean, the bill goes on to ban abortion at 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, and 24 weeks of gestation if courts strike down the ban on abortion when a heartbeat is detected. These layers not only provide additional protection for unborn children, but they force judges to specifically define exactly what gestational age they believe is acceptable if they do try to take protections away.