Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee Signs ‘Strongest Pro-Life Law’ In State History

Pro-choice advocates (right) and anti-abortion advocates (left) rally outside of the Supreme Court.
Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced he will sign a bill into law that puts a ban on any abortions being performed after a heartbeat can be detected, according to Fox 17 Nashville.

The heartbeat of an unborn child can usually be detected at about six weeks into the 40-week gestational period, which is often before a woman is aware they are pregnant. That fact alone puts this pro-life law in a position to block the majority of abortions that would have been performed under the earlier laws.

State lawmakers passed the Republican-backed abortion bill in the wee hours of Friday morning while in the midst of halted budget negotiations.

Lee thanked the state congressmen who backed the bill on his behest when he announced Friday that he would be signing it into law.

“One of the most important things we can do to be pro-family is to protect the rights of the most vulnerable in our state, and there is none more vulnerable than the unborn,” Lee said in a tweet.

Friday’s bill requires that anyone seeking an abortion have an ultrasound performed before the procedure takes place. It also bars physicians from performing the abortion if they become aware that it is “motivated by sex, race or disability diagnosis of the unborn child,” Fox 17 reported.

The bill also reportedly requires that doctors inform women who are seeking drug-induced abortions that the procedure can be stopped part-way through. That claim, however, is a controversial one, and according to the news outlet, some medical groups have voiced concern that there is not enough data to support the safety of a reversal.

Tennessee and North Mississippi Planned Parenthood Chief Executive Officer Ashley Coffield called out the bill, saying that it was not consistent with up-to-date science and didn’t account for “actual discrimination against women and girls.”

“While Tennesseans are concerned about their health and safety during a pandemic, politicians used women’s lives as a bargaining chip to push their political agenda,” Coffield said.

“Gov. Lee already failed at trying to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic by banning abortion through an executive order, and now he is trying to use every restriction he can think of to strip patients of their reproductive rights.”

So-called Heartbeat Bills have been signed into law in Mississippi and Georgia with similar restrictions on abortion procedures.

The issue of abortion became a topic in the news again during the coronavirus pandemic when the World Health Organization was petitioned to declare women’s access to abortion a public health issue, as The Inquisitr reported early in April.