Tennessee Right to Life Expresses Concern at Heartbeat Abortion Ban in Current Form

Bill Removes Post-Viability Protections for Unborn Children in Tennessee

NASHVILLE, MARCH 5, 2019 - Tennessee Right to Life respectfully underscores the concerns of our organization with regard to H.B. 77, the heartbeat abortion ban legislation.

  • Heartbeat bills have been struck down as unconstitutional in each state where it was passed and signed into law (North Dakota, Arkansas, Iowa.)
  • As presently drafted, H.B. 77 removes Tennessee's post-viability ban language enacted by the Tennessee General Assembly in 2017. H.B. 77 makes no provision for the protection of viable unborn children during the period in which the heartbeat ban is tied up in court.
  • The TN-ACLU has already announced their intention to file suit if the heartbeat ban is passed and signed.
  • Significant tax dollars were awarded in legal fees in the other states to pro-abortion plaintiffs including hundreds of thousands of dollars to Planned Parenthood.
  • No justice on the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take up lower court cases leaving intact the 8th circuit court rulings which found heartbeat bans unconstitutional.
  • Such litigation can result in unintended consequences as courts take the opportunity to review other existing pro-life statutes and possible cumulative threats to the "undue burden" standard established in the 1992 Casey ruling.
  • The Human Life Protection Act (HLPA) is drafted by pro-life constitutional attorney Paul B. Linton, who also assisted in drafting pro-life Amendment 1. HLPA is an alternate approach toward protecting life which is sponsored by Rep. Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet) and supported by Tennessee Right to Life.
  • HB 1029 provides broader protections for the unborn and abortion-vulnerable women by restoring Tennessee's pre-Roe statutes upon the overturn of Roe, in full or in part, by the U.S. Supreme Court. As a result, HB 1029 does not face the same legal challenges as the heartbeat ban for the possibility of building additional case law in support of Roe's precedent.

For these reasons, Tennessee Right to Life cannot support legislation which holds the potential to gravely harm this state's existing pro-life public policies and grassroots gains.