Ban on abortion after six weeks passes House, focus moves to Tenn. Senate

The Tennessee House of Representatives approved a ban on abortion after a heart beat can be detected — roughly six weeks of pregnancy. The legislation still must be heard by the full Tennessee Senate.

The legislation, HB0077, sponsored by Rep. James “Micah” Van Huss, R-Gray, District 6, is one of Republican’s most aggressive attempts to restrict women’s access to legal health care.

Standing in opposition to the bill, Rep. London Lamar, D-Memphis, District 91, said the legislation was “personal.”

“I think I’m one of the only women—only woman, if not—in this House that can still have children,” Lamar said. “We need to affirm a woman’s constitutional right to make her own decisions about an abortion. Abortion restrictions seeks to control a woman’s reproductive freedom and oppress the women in their communities. Access to abortion cannot be separated from human rights.”

She continued:

First, we need to do more to protect women’s access to health care and health care services, access to a fully funded education system, access to housing and food and equity in the workplace before we can force a woman to have a child. This pro-life movement is not concerned about the well being of the mother before, during or after pregnancy but is simply obsessed with us having babies.

Second, rape and incest are just inhumane. No woman, including myself, should have to carry a rapist’s baby.

The legislation, as written, creates no legal path to an abortion after six weeks for victims of rape or incest.

House Amendment 49, filed by Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville, District 13, which would have kept abortion legal for victims of rape and incest, was not even allowed to be heard. Republican House leaders ended debate and forced a vote.

Constitutional concerns
Even anti-abortion advocates have voiced concerns about the legislation because of the judicial precedent set by the Roe v. Wade decision, in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that states may not ban abortion before viability for any reason.

“Heartbeat bills have been struck down as unconstitutional in each state where it was passed and signed into law (North Dakota, Arkansas, Iowa.),” Tennessee Right to Life said in a press release. “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.”

Democratic members of the House warned that conservatives were inviting a costly court battle—and wasting tax dollars—to argue settled case law.

Next step
The senate companion legislation SB1236 will next be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is comprised of seven Republicans and two Democrats. The committee meets next on Tuesday, March 12, but SB1236 is not scheduled to be considered.

How they voted:
Representatives voting Aye:
Rep. Charlie Baum, R-Murfreesboro, District 37
Rep. Clark Boyd, R-Lebanon, District 46
Rep. Rush Bricken, R-Tullahoma, District 47
Rep. David Byrd, R-Waynesboro, District 71
Rep. Kent Calfee, R-Kingston, District 32
Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, District 29
Speaker Glen Casada, R-Franklin, District 63
Rep. Scott Cepicky, R-Culleoka, District 64
Rep. Mark Cochran, R-Englewood, District 23
Rep. John Crawford, R-Kingsport, District 1
Rep. Michael Curcio, R-Dickson, District 69
Rep. Clay Doggett, R-Pulaski, District 70
Rep. Rick Eldridge, R-Morristown, District 10
Rep. Ron Gant, R-Rossville, District 94
Rep. Johnny Garrett, R-Goodlettsville, District 45
Rep. Bruce Griffey, R-Paris, District 75
Rep. Mark Hall, R-Cleveland, District 24
Rep. Kirk Haston, R-Lobelville, District 72
Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville, District 5
Rep. Esther Helton, R-East Ridge, District 30
Rep. Gary Hicks, R-Rogersville, District 9
Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, District 7
Rep. Timothy Hill, R-Blountville, District 3
Rep. John Holsclaw, Jr., R-Elizabethton, District 4
Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, District 76
Rep. Dan Howell, R-Cleveland, District 22
Rep. Bud Hulsey, R-Kingsport, District 2
Rep. Chris Hurt, R-Halls, District 82
Rep. Curtis Johnson, R-Clarksville, District 68
Rep. Kelly Keisling, R-Byrdstown, District 38
Rep. Sabi Kumar, R-Springfield, District 66
Rep. William Lamberth, R-Portland, District 44
Rep. Tom Leatherwood, R-Arlington, District 99
Rep. Mary Littleton, R-Dickson, District 78
Rep. Debra Moody, R-Covington, District 81
Rep. Jerome Moon, R-Maryville, District 8
Rep. Brandon Ogles, R-Franklin, District 61
Rep. Dennis Powers, R-Jacksboro, District 36
Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, District 33
Rep. Jay Reedy, R-Erin, District 74
Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, District 34
Rep. Iris Rudder, R-Winchester, District 39
Rep. Lowell Russell, R-Vonore, District 21
Rep. Bill Sanderson, R-Kenton, District 77
Rep. Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, District 25
Rep. Jerry Sexton, R-Bean Station, District 35
Rep. Paul Sherrell, R-Sparta, District 43
Rep. Robin Smith, R-Hixson, District 26
Rep. Mike Sparks, R-Smyrna, District 49
Rep. Bryan Terry, R-Murfreesboro, District 48
Rep. Rick Tillis, R-Lewisberg, District 92
Rep. Chris Todd, R-Jackson, District 73
Rep. Ron Travis, R-Dayton, District 31
Rep. James “Micah” Van Huss, R-Gray, District 6
Rep. Kevin Vaughan, R-Collierville, District 95
Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, R-Lancaster, District 40
Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis, District 83
Rep. Sam Whitson, R-Franklin, District 65
Rep. Ryan Williams, R-Cookeville, District 42
Rep. Dave Wright, R-Corryton, District 19
Rep. Jason Zachary, R-Knoxville, District 14

Rep. John DeBerry, D-Memphis, District 90
Rep. Joe Towns, Jr., D-Memphis, District 84
Rep. John Mark Windle, D-Livingston, District 41

Representatives voting No against the bill:
Rep. Bill Beck, D-Nashville, District 51
Rep. Karen Camper, D-Memphis, District 87
Rep. Jesse Chism, D-Memphis, District 85
Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, District 55
Rep. Barbara Cooper, D-Memphis, District 86
Rep. Vincent Dixie, D-Nashville, District 54
Rep. Bob Freeman, D-Nashville, District 56
Rep. Yusuf Hakeem, D-Chattanooga, District 28
Rep. G. A. Hardaway, D-Memphis, District 93
Rep. Jason Hodges, D-Clarksville, District 67
Rep. Darren Jernigan, D-Old Hickory, District 60
Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville, District 13
Rep. London Lamar, D-Memphis, District 91
Rep. Harold Love, Jr., D-Nashville, District 58
Rep. Larry Miller, D-Memphis, District 88
Rep. Bo Mitchell, D-Nashville, District 50
Rep. Jason Potts, D-Nashville, District 59
Rep. Jason Powell, D-Nashville, District 53
Rep. Rick Staples, D-Knoxville, District 15
Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, District 52
Rep. Dwayne Thompson, D-Cordova, District 96

Present Not Voting:
Rep. Dale Carr, R-Sevierville, District 12
Rep. Jim Coley, R-Bartlett, District 97
Rep. Martin Daniel, R-Knoxville, District 18
Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, District 16
Rep. Patsy Hazelwood, R-Signal Mountain, District 27
Rep. Justin Lafferty, R-Knoxville, District 89
Rep. Pat Marsh, R-Shelbyville, District 62

Absent, Missed Vote:
Rep. Bob Ramsey, R-Maryville, District 20
Rep. Johnny Shaw, D-Bolivar, District 80
Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, District 11 (excused absence)
Rep. Andrew Farmer, R-Sevierville, District 17 (excused absence)
Rep. Curtis Halford, R-Dyer, District 79 (excused absence)
Rep. Antonio Parkinson, D-Memphis, District 98 (excused absence)