Bill would ban abortions across state if Roe v. Wade overturned
NASHVILLE — A pair of Republican lawmakers have introduced a bill that would ban most abortions in Tennessee should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, its landmark decision legalizing abortion.
The “Human Life Protection Act“would create one exception to the ban: when an abortion is necessary to prevent death or “substantial and irreversible impairment of major bodily function.”
If enacted, the measure would make it a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion, while women seeking abortions would be exempt from prosecution.
It would be up to doctors to prove the abortion was necessary to prevent a woman’s death as part of an “affirmative defense to prosecution.” A physician performing an abortion would also have to prove that he or she had made a best-faith effort to deliver a live infant.
The measure, introduced by Sen. Dolores Gresham, R-somerville, and Rep. Susan Lynn, R-MT. Juliet, would take effect 30 days after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in whole or part — or if an amendment to the U.S. Constitution is adopted giving states the authority to ban abortions.
“This bill will ensure Tennessee remains a national leader in preserving protections for our unborn and the women of our state,” Lynn said.
The bill is a priority for Tennessee Right to Life, which advocates against abortion, and has built a large, grassroots following that was responsible for passing a constitutional amendment removing the right to an abortion from Tennessee’s constitution.
Sen. Raumesh Akbari, D-memphis, said lawmakers should place their efforts elsewhere.