Gov. Lee proposes legislation that bans abortion once fetal heartbeat detected


In this July 9, 2019, file photo Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee speaks during a groundbreaking ceremony for the new soccer club stadium in East Ridge, Tenn. Tennessee would become the first state in the nation to receive its Medicaid funding in a lump sum under a proposal seeking to drastically overhaul the program that provides […]

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced he will be pursuing new abortion legislation this year that would ban the procedure once a fetal heartbeat is detected.

“I believe that every human life is precious, and we have a responsibility to protect it,” said Lee. “Today, Tennessee is taking a monumental step in celebrating, cherishing, and defending life at every stage.”

The proposed legislation would also require an ultrasound and prohibit doctors from performing the procedure if it’s known that it’s being sought on the basis of the child’s sex, race or a disability, The Tennessean reported.

Abortion has resurfaced as a major issue in American politics with a flurry of measures making their way through state legislatures around the country.

The wave of restrictions comes as Republican state lawmakers look for friendly rulings from a new wave of judges freshly appointed by President Donald Trump.

“It’s game on in the legislatures, and it’s game on in the courts,” said Sue Swayze Liebel, state policy director for anti-abortion advocacy group Susan B. Anthony List.

The efforts contrast with moves by states like California, Illinois, Maine, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont last year to protect and expand abortion access.

“You get a little bit of whiplash going back and forth between states that are looking to ban abortion and states that are looking to protect it,” said Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues manager at the abortion rights research group the Guttmacher Institute.

So far, no state has succeeded in forcing a broad court challenge to the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. But more state-level bills are in the pipeline for consideration this year.

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