Tennessee lawmakers advance fetal heartbeat bill

Tennessee lawmakers advance fetal heartbeat bill
© Stefani Reynolds

Lawmakers in Tennessee on Tuesday advanced legislation that would make it illegal for most women in the state to have an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected.

The state's House Health Committee voted 15-4 to advance the bill and send it to the House floor for a vote, the Associated Press reported.

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State Rep. Micah Van Huss (R), who sponsored the bill, said during a hearing Tuesday that abortion is "an issue that has been on my heart my whole life."

“I aim to save babies' lives," he added.

The legislation has been backed by Tennessee Gov. Gov. Bill Lee (R), according to the AP.

State Rep. Darren Jernigan (D) told the AP that he was bothered by the bill because, under it, the government would be able to tell women "what to do" with their bodies.

"I have three girls. I’ve raised them to be independent so no boy tells them what to do. Well, except for me,” Jernigan said. “But I’ve also said they’re in control of their bodies and it bothers me the government would tell them what to do and it bothers me the bill is likely unconstitutional.”

A similar bill has also been introduced by lawmakers in Ohio. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) has said he would sign that legislation after former Gov. John Kasich (R) vetoed a version last year.

Such laws, however, could trigger legal challenges if approved. In Iowa, a judge ruled last month that the state's own fetal heartbeat abortion law is unconstitutional.