The Tennessee Public Health Subcommittee passed a proposed bill banning abortion once a heartbeat is detected in an unborn fetus.
State House Representative Ryan Williams said the bill will likely be supported by a majority of the state’s House of Representatives.
“I think it’s going to find a lot of favor in the House, I really do,” Williams said. “I think it’s been challenged in the passed but I don’t think it’s been an issue of whether or not it would pass in the House here in Tennessee ever. I think the irony of it is there are many pro-life groups who disagree on whether this is the right way to do it or not.”
Williams said Tennessee lawmakers shouldn’t have a problem passing the bill after Governor Bill Lee announced his support of the idea earlier this year.
“There was a fetal heartbeat bill proposed by (6th District Representative) Micah Van Huss,” Williams said. “Five other states have passed this. Of course, there’s the other side of the pendulum with the law that was passed in New York and the one that was proposed in Virginia. So it’ll be interesting to see as it relates to issues surrounding abortion, Roe v. Wade, and those kinds of things.”
Similar bills have been proposed across the United States in recent months, with Kentucky and Mississippi recently passing such bills. Meanwhile, former Ohio Governor John Kasich voted down a similar bill in December before leaving office.
Tennessee’s proposed bill – sponsored by 6th District Rep. Micah Van Huss – would ban abortion approximately six weeks into a pregnancy, the average time until a heartbeat is detected in a fetus.
88th District Rep. Larry J. Miller questioned Van Huss on the issue during Wednesday’s meeting, noting that women with unplanned pregnancies don’t know they’re pregnant until about eight weeks in.
“What do you think a woman would do if she seriously wanted that abortion?” Miller asked. “I think if she seriously wants that abortion, she’s going to find a way to have it. Then her health is really in serious peril if she decides to go to any unhealthy method of having that abortion performed.”
Van Huss addressed Miller’s question and explained that the bill would not cover instances of incest or rape. However, the bill would allow cases in which the mother’s health is at risk.
“I do not believe that the justice for the sins of the father or the mother – the person committing the rape – I do not believe that that justice should be carried out on an innocent baby,” Van Huss said. “Unhealthy abortion… I would call that unhealthy murder. I think it’s wrong either way.”
The bill now moves to the State House Health Committee and will be heard Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 9 a.m.