NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — The Tennessee House passed a bill Thursday that bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected.
State representatives approved House Bill 2263 in a 68-17 vote.
“Hopefully we can protect more lives, we can save more babies,” said Rep. Susan Lynn (R) of Mount Juliet.
The measure, called the “heartbeat bill”, was proposed by Gov. Bill Lee.
The bill would make it a class C felony to perform or induce, or attempt to perform or induce, an abortion after a fetal heartbeat has been detected, with an exception for medical emergencies.
It also requires an ultrasound be performed prior to an abortion and makes it illegal to induce an abortion because of the child’s sex, race, or potential for Down syndrome.
“This legislation does not stand between a woman and her doctor. This legislation stands between a baby and its executioner,” said Rep. Micah Van Huss (R) from Jonesborough.
Democrats rose to oppose the bill.
“I do not need legislators in my doctor’s office. And if we are going to legislate health on women and not men then we are not treating women equally,” said Rep. Gloria Johnson (D) of Knoxville.
Others say similar bills have been met with push back from the courts.
“Why are we allowing the state to spend more money and court fees on a bill that we know is going to get struck down in the court system?” asked Rep. London Lamar (D) from Memphis.
Back in Johnson City- the chair of the Washington Co. Democratic Party sounded off.
“It seems unfortunate that this becomes a priority now especially in the age of COVID, ‘Black Lives Matter’ and all the unrest that’s going on that they would choose to prioritize unborn lives versus born lives,” said Kate Craig. “Tennesseans are hurting. Tennesseans need Medicaid expansion, Tennesseans need small business relief, worker relief and as they’re trying to figure out everything around public education and what’s going to happen and how we are going to make rent. These are very real needs- these kitchen table issues that Tennesseans are facing and yet the legislature, the House Republicans are ignoring them completely.”
The bill is now in the hands of the Senate, which went into recess around 10:30 Thursday evening after Planned Parenthood supporters somehow got into the Senate chambers in violation of the rules.
This is a developing story. Look for updates on WJHL.com.