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Tennessee Republicans Advance Unconstitutional 20-Week Abortion Ban (Updated)

Teddy Wilson

If the anti-choice law passes the Tennessee house without amendments, it would head to Gov. Bill Haslam (R), who is considering a veto due to the possibility of litigation.

UPDATE, May 3, 5:39 p.m.: The GOP-held Tennessee house on Wednesday voted along party lines in favor of the 20-week abortion ban.

Republicans in the Tennessee senate on Monday passed a ban on abortion care after 20 weeks of pregnancy amid GOP concerns about the potential for costly litigation if the law is challenged.

SB 1180, sponsored by state Sen. Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald), would prohibit a person from performing or inducing, or attempting to perform or induce, an abortion upon a patient when the fetus is viable. Hensley said legislation is based on a similar bill passed by the GOP-held Ohio legislature in December.

The Tennessee house is expected to take up the bill next week. If it is passed without amendments, it would head to Gov. Bill Haslam (R), who is considering a veto due to the possibility of litigation, reported the Tennessean. It’s unclear if the 20-week ban will see a legal challenge, as no abortion providers in the state offer services past 16 weeks of pregnancy

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“We will see,” Haslam said. “When it gets to us, we’ll have those conversations both with the attorney general [and] our own review of the bill before we make our decision.”

Anyone who violates the law could be charged with a Class C felony, which carries a prison sentence of three to 15 years and up to a $10,000 fine. A physician who violates this provision may have their medical license revoked.

The bill includes an exception for cases of medical emergency, but does not include exceptions for rape, incest, or fetal abnormalities. The bill was passed by the GOP-dominated state senate with a party-line 27-3 vote.

Twenty-week abortion bans with varying exceptions have been enacted in 20 states. The anti-choice measures have been blocked in three states: Arizona, Georgia, and Idaho.

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