VAN HUSS ON HEARTBEAT BILL: “Incest Sometimes OK, Rape Sometimes Woman’s Fault”

Yesterday House Bill 77, the “heartbeat bill”, cleared the Public Health Subcommittee and has been referred to the Health Committee. The Senate version of the bill – SB1236, carried by Sen. Pody – was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.

The bill is again being sponsored by Rep. Micah Van Huss (R-Jonesborough), who says a fetal heartbeat is typically detectable about six weeks into pregnancy. Here’s some video of Van Huss being questioned about the bill by Rep. Vincent Dixie (D-Nashville):

Dixie first asks Van Huss about whether or not the bill would require transvaginal ultrasounds, which has been a source of contention with these bills throughout the country, to which Van Huss responded he assumed it means abdominal ultrasounds.

Dixie then moves on to exceptions, and whether or not the bill would allow for exceptions in the cases of rape and incest. Van Huss said they would not:

“First of all I don’t know why incest is included in that question, because it’s either consensual or it’s rape.”

Oh-kay. Defending incest. That’s one way to go.

Van Huss went on:

“Second of all, I do not believe that the justice for the sins of the father or the mother should be carried out on an innocent baby.”

Didja catch that? The father or the mother.

To make sure Dixie had heard him right, he asked Van Huss to clarify:

“You said the sins of the father or mother… when it comes to rape?”

Van Huss reiterated:

“Yes sir. I do not believe that the justice for the sins of the father or mother when it comes to rape. I do not believe that justice should be carried out on an innocent baby.”

Dixie took a second to choke that one down before moving on to ask about the timing, pointing out that on average women who aren’t planning to get pregnant don’t even know that they’re pregnant until 8 weeks.

Van Huss doesn’t care:

“I believe that killing a baby, no matter what its age, is evil.”

Good news though Tennessee – Rep. Van Huss is not the highest court in the land. We have one of those, and they have already ruled on this. The Supreme Court’s 7-2 Roe vs. Wade decision defined “viable” as “potentially able to live outside the mother’s womb, albeit with artificial aid.” Justices in Casey acknowledged that viability may occur at 23 or 24 weeks, or sometimes even earlier, in light of medical advances.

Committee attorney Matt King pointed that out also, saying:

“I believe it’s accurate to say that it may be subject to constitutional scrutiny, and it may be suspect on those grounds.”

Thank you, Matt.

Rep. Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville) also made the astute observation that the committee deciding on this issue was made up entirely of men, which seems odd considering the issue at stake here is women’s health:


Fair question, Gloria. She also added:

“Until a woman has agency over her body, women are not equal. How dare these men stand in our legislature using their “beliefs” to take away women’s rights.”

The bill does have an exception for emergency medical situations.

Last year, a watered-down version of the bill passed which said if an ultrasound is performed before an abortion, the woman must be offered the results of the ultrasound.

If this year’s bill becomes law, it is expected to face legal challenges. Governor Bill Lee supports it.

According to Pew – public support for legal abortion remains as high as it has been in two decades of polling. Currently, 58% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 37% say it should be illegal in all or most cases.

If you side with the Supreme Court over Rep. Van Huss, holler at him HERE. And holler at the Governor here.

We should also point out that this is by no means the only attack on women’s health snaking its way through the legislature. HB1029 by Lynn, SB1257 by Gresham, sets up an immediate ban of abortion if Roe v. Wade is amended or overturned.

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