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Tennessee lawmakers to push for total abortion ban in state

Posted at 10:46 AM, Aug 12, 2019

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee lawmakers will consider a total abortion ban throughout the state when the Senate Judiciary Committee meets this week for its summer study.

According to CBS News, lawmakers will hear testimony this week from more than 20 witnesses and debate an 11-page amendment to a "fetal heartbeat" bill that was introduced earlier this year.

If the changes are adopted and the bill passes, the legislation would ban abortion once a woman knows she's pregnant — only if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

Earlier this year, the Tennessee General Assembly tried to pass legislation that would ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. The measure cleared the House but stalled in the Senate after leaders said the bill raised too many legal concerns.

"The pro-life people all agreed that they want to see restrictions on abortion, but they started disagreeing on how to do it," state Senator Kerry Roberts (R—Springfield) said in a telephone interview with CBS News.

Roberts told CBS News the intention of the amended bill isn't to immediately cut off access to the procedure but to provide a legal challenge to Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey and other Supreme Court precedents.

This year, six states -- Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Ohio -- passed so-called "heartbeat" bills. Missouri passed an eight-week ban, and Alabama went even further by passing a near-total abortion ban.

Tennessee nearly joined those conservative states with House Bill 77, a "fetal heartbeat" bill that doesn't provide exceptions for victims of rape or incest, CBS News says.

This story was originally published by Laken Bowles on WTVF in Nashville.