NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee expressed “concern” about a leaked draft of a Supreme Court ruling on Roe v Wade in a Tuesday afternoon statement, but also telegraphed his likely approach should the country’s highest court actually overturn the decision that legalized abortion at a federal level.
Lee, a Republican, cited multiple Tennessee laws enacted since he took office in 2019, “to pass maximum possible protection for pre-born children.”
One would make it a Class C felony to perform an abortion, and take effect automatically 30 days after any Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruling overturning Roe v Wade.
Lee’s statement was in response to the leaking of a 67-page draft that indicated the SCOTUS plans to overturn the 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade, which protects the federal right to abortion. The document was described as a draft majority opinion that would remove abortion protections at the federal level and grant full authority on abortions to state governments.
At the beginning of the full statement on the leak, Lee wrote:
“I am concerned by the leak and any attempt to thwart justice. If the federal courts return full authority to the states, Tennessee’s laws will automatically provide the maximum possible protection and offer a glimmer of redemption as America reconciles our troubled past. We are talking about families in crisis – not isolated clinical procedures – and our state will continue to provide protection, resources and care for both mother and child.”Gov. Bill Lee
State legislators previously passed a “trigger law,” which would bring criminal charges against anyone who performs an abortion or attempts to in the event that the Roe v. Wade ruling is ever overturned. The law only provides exceptions in circumstances in which the mother is at risk of death or serious injury.
Should the SCOTUS overturn the ruling, abortions in Tennessee would be illegal in all but a few instances once the “trigger law,” Tennessee Code Annotated 39-15-213, goes into effect.
Tennessee lawmakers have already passed the “heartbeat law,” which prohibits abortions in the state once a fetal heartbeat is detectable. That law is currently tied up in courts after a series of challenges by opposition to the law.