New, fetal heartbeat bill takes effect in Tennessee

Jan 7, 2019

Credit WMOT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  A number of new state laws went into effect with the New Year, including new abortion regulations.

One year ago this month conservative Republican lawmakers introduced a bill that sought to ban all abortions once a fetal heartbeat could be detected. That usually occurs about six weeks into a pregnancy.

But the bill met opposition from some Tennessee Republicans and every statehouse Democrat. Lawmakers revised the bill several times before it managed to pass both chambers.

As it went into effect January 1, the law only requires that women seeking an abortion be given an opportunity to see a fetal ultrasound and listen to the fetal heartbeat if an ultrasound is performed.

Even that greatly watered-down version of the bill generated heated debate on the House floor. Here’s  what former Nashville Democratic Rep. Sherry Jones had to say on the House floor back in February.

“Forcing them (expectant mothers) to look at an ultra sound and hear about a heartbeat after they’ve made the crushing decision to abort that pregnancy is nothing but emotional abuse.”

Republican bill sponsor Micah Van Huss was not pleased that his bill had been so drastically amended. He made that point clear during House debate.

“We cannot continue to allow the slaughter of the unborn while we hope for better circumstances and we should not cede this responsibility to the next generation.”

Seven state have passed fetal heart beat abortion bans in recent years, even though federal law keeps them from being enforced.

The new regulations are a bit of a moot point locally. Nashville’s only abortion clinic closed in December.