The Heartbeat Bill (HB 0077), which would prohibit abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, has advanced to committee, having made it through the Tennessee House Public Health Subcommittee.
The bill would require fetal-heartbeat testing prior to an abortion; a fetal heartbeat can often be detected about six weeks into pregnancy.
After discussions Wednesday about initial detection of pregnancy and the processes involved in testing for a heartbeat, lawmakers sent the bill to the full Health Committee for a hearing and a vote.
As the bill currently stands, it doesn’t make exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
Rep. Micah Van Huss, one of the bill’s sponsors, contends in those cases, there’s no reason to kill an innocent child because of reprehensible behavior on the part of one of its parents.
A similar bill failed to make it past committee in 2017.
Tennessee Right to Life President Brian Harris explained why his organization opposes this bill, as it did in 2017. Harris said the group is focused on measures it believes could survive legal challenges; and this one, he said, would face certain challenges that could erode the right to life. Instead, the group is putting its support behind the Human Life Protection Act. This would ban most abortions in the state should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion.