Tennessee Governor Signs “Most Conservative, Pro-Life” Bill. District Court Blocks It.

On June 19th, Governor Bill Lee of Tennessee signed a bill that would effectively ban all abortions after a heartbeat is detected: after six weeks in pregnancy. On Monday, Lee, live-streamed from his desk, stating that he was signing “arguably the most conservative, pro-life piece of legislation in the country.” Lee also said that he believes “every human life is precious, and we have a responsibility to protect it.”

Within minutes of Lee signing the legislation, U.S. District Court Judge William Campbell established a temporary restraining order on the bill. Quickly following suit, Planned Parenthood, American Civil Liberties Union, and the Center of Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit, in which the ruling blocked most of the bill from taking effect.

Jessica Sklarsky, senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said, “banning abortion is blatantly unconstitutional, and the lawmakers who passed this law are well aware.”

The bill would have made doctors unable to perform an abortion after a heartbeat was detected or if they were aware of the woman seeking an abortion wanted one because of race, sex, or disability like Down Syndrome.

However, Judge Campbell allowed some parts of the bill to take effect, including making doctors offer mothers an ultrasound and requiring medical providers to inform patients about the abortion pill reversal.

According to LiteSiteNews, the court decision wasn’t unexpected. “Many such laws… are generally not intended to ban abortion in the near term, but instead to provoke a legal battle that would… reach the U.S. Supreme Court and instigate a review of Roe v. Wade, thereby… freeing the states to set their own abortion laws.”

This restraining order was passed shortly after a federal judge in Georgia blocked HB481, the Living Infants Fairness Equality (LIFE) Act, a similar heartbeat bill in Georgia. Governor Kemp of Georgia has stated he will appeal the court’s decision. 

“It is disheartening that the abortion lobby can hear a preborn child’s heartbeat and still say ‘that is not human.’ I hope our leaders in Tennessee and Georgia will fight for life and appeal these decisions,” SFLAction Government Affairs Coordinator Rachel Summa said. 

This is a guest article by Erin Jobes, a Students for Life Action Leader and student at Germanna Community College.