Opponents of a Tennessee pro-life bill have filed to block it before it's even been signed into law by the governor. And now there's even more doubt about the future of any state laws that challenge abortion after the Supreme Court ruled this week, striking down a Louisiana abortion law that focused on safety for women.
Tennessee's governor is clearly in favor of signing the Heartbeat Bill state lawmakers overwhelmingly passed in June. The measure bans abortions once a doctor can detect a fetal heartbeat, requiring a mother to have an ultrasound before an abortion.
In addition to banning abortions once the baby's unique heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks, the bill prohibits abortions solely based on the baby's gender and abortions that specifically target babies with Down Syndrome, The Tennessean reports.
Also, the bill prohibits juveniles from having an abortion if they are detained at the Department of Children's Services. An exception includes if a woman's life is in danger, but there are no exceptions for rape or incest.
Gov. Bill Lee praised the leaders who helped pass the bill to protect the most vulnerable. Gov. Bill Lee tweeted, "We have passed the strongest pro-life law in our state's history..."
We have passed the strongest pro-life law in our state’s history and I am grateful to @ltgovmcnally, @CSexton25, @SenJohnson, @WilliamLamberth and members of our General Assembly for making the heartbeat bill law.
— Gov. Bill Lee (@GovBillLee) June 19, 2020
"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," he said.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List agreed, saying, "This law recognizes the humanity of the unborn child by stopping abortion as soon as a heartbeat can be detected, protecting them from lethal discrimination in the womb, and ending late-term abortions after five months, when unborn babies can feel excruciating pain."
In passing the measure, State Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-TN) said, "It's time for us to push back as a state for the people we represent and to make this statement for the unborn."
Republicans and pro-life supporters had been hoping this bill would be more than just a "statement for the unborn", dreaming it could one day make its way to the Supreme Court and challenge the foundation of Roe v. Wade. But after Chief Justice John Roberts joined the four progressives on the court this week to say that abortion precedent is what matters most, it's unclear if any attempt to overturn the primary precedent created by the Roe ruling has much chance of changing anything at the national level.
This week Dr. James Dobson, president of the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute, blasted that ruling and what it means for future pro-life efforts, and the future of America.
Dobson said of Roberts' decision to prioritize precedent, even a precedent that Roberts agreed was wrongly decided, "...he failed to right the wrong, arguing that no 'special circumstances' exist that allow the Court to overturn its prior decision."
"The Chief Justice fears overturning precedent… he fears upsetting the leftist press… he should instead fear God. Indeed, all of us should shudder at the thought of God's judgment in this matter. He is full of mercy and continually calls us to repent but His justice cannot and will not tarry forever."
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