NASHVILLE – State lawmakers approved Tuesday a measure that, if enacted into law, would ban abortions in Tennessee after about six weeks of pregnancy.

Members of the House Health Committee voted 15-4 to send House Bill 0077 to the Calendar and Rules Committee—the last step before the legislation is heard by the full House of Representatives.

Under current state law, abortions are only permitted before fetus viability, the point at which a fetus can survive outside the uterus. At 20 weeks of pregnancy, existing state law requires a medical assessment to determine fetus viability.

Under HB0077, abortions would only be permitted up until the point when a heartbeat can be identified, which the bill’s sponsor and medical professionals say happens at about week six of a nine-month gestation period.

Constitutional concerns
Last week, an attorney for the House told members the legislation, if made law, would be likely be subjected to “constitutional scrutiny.”

Forty-five years ago in Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court held that states may not ban abortion before viability for any reason. The opinion has been repeatedly reaffirmed.

Democratic members of the Health Committee warned the law would create a costly court battle to argue settled case law.

Invasion of privacy
Opponents of the bill also said women, often times, do not know they are pregnant before six weeks.

The bill effectively empowers the government to take away a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions before she would have known she had a decision to make.

The bill begs the question: Are women equal to men under the law if women don’t have the right to make a private medical decision?

Takeaway: 
HB0077 is an intrusion into the personal lives of Tennesseans. Important life and health decisions should be made by individuals in consultation with their doctors and their families, not politicians.

How they voted:
Representatives voting aye were: 15
Rep. David Byrd (R-Waynesboro) District 71
Rep. Ron Gant (R-Rossville) District 94
Rep. Mark Hall (R-Cleveland), District 24
Rep. Esther Helton (R-East Ridge) District 30
Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough) District 7
Rep. Sabi Kumar (R-Springfield) District 66
Rep. Tom Leatherwood (R-Arlington) District 99
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. Bryan Terry (R-Murfreesboro) District 48
Rep. James (Micah) Van Huss (R-Gray), District 6
Rep. Kevin Vaughan (R-Collierville) District 95
Rep. Sam Whitson (R-Franklin) District 65

Representatives voting no were: 4
Rep. Vincent Dixie (D-Nashville) District 54
Rep. Larry Miller (D-Memphis) District 88
Rep. Barbara Cooper (D-Memphis) District 86
Rep. Darren Jernigan (D-Old Hickory) District 60

Bill sponsors and co-sponsors:
The bill’s sponsor is Rep. James (Micah) Van Huss (R-Gray), District 6. Co-sponsors are listed as: 
Rep. William Lamberth (R-Portland) District 44
Rep. Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka) District 64
Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough) District 7
Rep. Jerome Moon (R-Maryville) District 8
Rep. Rick Eldridge (R-Morristown) District 10
Rep. Bruce Griffey (R-Paris) District 75
Rep. Paul Sherrell (R-Sparta), District 43
Rep. Kent Calfee (R-Kingston), District 32
Rep. John Crawford (R-Kingsport) District 1
Rep. Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville)
Rep. Chris Todd (R-Jackson), District 73
Rep. Timothy Hill (R-Blountville), District 3
Rep. Jay Reedy (R-Erin), District 74
Rep. Mark Hall (R-Cleveland), District 24
Rep. Tim Rudd (R-Murfreesboro), District 34
Rep. John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge), District 33
Rep. Robin Smith (R-Hixson) District 26
Rep. Bud Hulsey (R-Kingsport) District 2
Rep. Clay Doggett (R-Pulaski) District 70
Rep. Dan Howell (R-Cleveland) District 22
Rep. David Byrd (R-Waynesboro) District 71
Rep. Tom Leatherwood (R-Arlington) District 99
Rep. Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville) District 42
Rep. Dennis Powers (R-Jacksboro) District 36
Rep. Dale Carr (R-Sevierville) District 12
Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) District 40
Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin) District 63
Rep. Mary Littleton (R-Dickson) District 78
Rep. Debra Moody (R-Covington) District 81
Rep. Mike Sparks (R-Smyrna) District 49
Rep. Bill Sanderson (R-Kenton) District 77 
Rep. Mark Cochran (R-Englewood) District 23
Rep. Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah) District 29
Rep. Sabi Kumar (R-Springfield) District 66
Rep. Curtis Halford (R-Dyer) District 79
Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresdent) District 76
Rep. Jim Coley (R-Bartlett) District 97
Rep. Kirk Haston (R-Lobelville) District 72
Rep. Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station) District 35
Rep. Charlie Baum (R-Murfreesboro) District 37
Rep. Andrew Farmer (R-Sevierville) District 17
Rep. Kelly Keilsling (R-Byrdstown) District 38
Rep. Brandon Ogles (R-Franklin) District 61
Rep. Bryan Terry (R-Murfreesboro) District 48
Rep. Sam Whitson (R-Franklin) District 65
Rep. Chris Hurt (R-Halls) District 82
Rep. Ron Gant (R-Rossville) District 94
Rep. Esther Helton (R-East Ridge) District 30
Rep. Rush Bricken (R-Tullahoma) District 47