Rep. Micah Van Huss (R-Jonesborough) has introduced a bill that would make it a crime to perform or obtain an abortion in Tennessee after a fetal heartbeat is detected, with the only exception being a medical emergency – a bill that was already struck down as unconstitutional by a federal judge in Iowa.
The Bill has the support of both Governor Lee and Glen Casada, who told the Associated Press that he thinks it’s “a fight worth having in front of the Supreme Court.”
Even Tennessee Right to Life, a group that advocates against abortions, opposes the measure because they believe it would not survive legal challenges. It’s similar to one that was introduced in 2017 that the then Tennessee Attorney General also called “constitutionally suspect” which failed in large part due to lack of support from Tennessee Right to Life.
This bill – HB 0077 – would essentially make it a crime to provide OR receive an abortion after 8 weeks (when a fetal heartbeat is detectable), with the only exception exception being a medical emergency.
There’s no mention of rape, incest or mental health exceptions.
Close to 70,000 women a year die from unsafe abortion and numerous others suffer grave injuries, including infection, hemorrhaging, and infertility. Half of all pregnancies in this country are unintended, and, of those, half end in abortion.
This bill would do nothing to reduce unintended pregnancies, which is what abortion reduction laws should focus on. According to the CDC:
In 2006, 49% of pregnancies were unintended—a slight increase from 48% in 2001.
Among women aged 19 years and younger, more than 4 out of 5 pregnancies were unintended.
The proportion of pregnancies that were unintended was highest among teens younger than age 15 years, at 98%.
Large increases in unintended pregnancy rates were found among women with lower education, low income, and cohabiting women.
The National Institutes of Health tells us there are several approaches that have been shown to be effective in reducing unintended pregnancies:
Ensure birth control and family planning is freely available to adolescents and adults
Sex education programs, which provide information on abstinence and contraceptive use and do NOT encourage the onset of sexual intercourse nor increase the frequency of intercourse among adolescents. (In fact, quite the opposite)
Expand Medicaid (as most other states have) so low-income mothers can have access to family planning and prenatal care that helps prevent birth defects.
Medicaid is pro-life. Rejecting $6 billion of our own federal dollars isn’t making mothers or children any safer. We should join the majority of the country and expand medicaid now.
Rep. Jim cooper has a bill that would give us even less excuse for not doing it.
Representative Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville) responded to the Heartbeat bill by telling The Holler: “We need to trust women. It’s a rights issue. If you don’t allow a woman to make decisions about her own body, you don’t believe in equal rights.” Johnson continued, “We do not need the government in our doctors’ offices. It’s always one of those ‘small government’ guys who comes in with a bill to regulate women’s health care.”
6 in 10 women say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.