Tennessee lawmakers discuss plan to challenge Roe v. Wade

Posted at 7:55 AM, Aug 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-13 21:02:30-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF)  — State lawmakers continue discussing a bill that would give Tennessee some of the strictest abortion rules in the country.

The Senate Judiciary committee is meeting again Tuesday for its summer study on the "fetal heartbeat bill."

Watch below:

While lawmakers are discussing and studying the "heartbeat bill," there is also discussion about an amendment to the bill that would ban abortion outright.

On Monday, the committee heard from anti-abortion groups. In today's session, they’re hearing from abortion-rights advocates. Today was markedly more emotional than the previous day, with lawmakers more willing to challenge speakers and several audience members asked to leave for being too disorderly.

One speaker even refused to stop talking after going over her 10 minute speaking time. Cherise Scott of SisterReach, a Memphis pro-choice organization, turned and shouted back into the crowd as some lawmakers left their seats in protest.

"You've been nowhere but sitting in your churches, in your brick and mortar, not in these streets. God is not pleased and you need to repent," she said.

Officials with the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Women's Law Center and Planned Parenthood issued cautions, saying the state is likely to lose a legal battle if the measure passes.

"The amended version of 1236 is also blatantly unconstitutional and we believe will be quickly be struck down by the courts," said Hedy Weinberg of ACLU Tennessee. "Make no mistake, the ACLU and others will sue if this bill is passed and signed into law. We will sue and we will win."

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.

If the amendment is adopted, the legislation would ban abortion once a woman knows she's pregnant -- only if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

Still, the committee's chairman said he's holding off making a decision until he's studied the issue more carefully.

"I haven't really heard anything new, but I think you heard strong arguments from both sides," said republican Senator Mike Bell of Riceville. "I'm not going to commit to anything new to which way either me personally or which way the senate will go when the session starts."

Read more: Tennessee lawmakers discuss bill that could make abortion illegal