NASHVILLE, TN (WJHL) – It’s unclear whether Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam will sign a bill, sponsored by a Tri-Cities lawmaker, banning abortions at 20 weeks in Tennessee.
State Representative Matthew Hill of Jonesborough said his Tennessee Infants Protection Act, or House Bill 1189, is working to ensure that once a doctor determines a fetus can survive outside of the womb, an abortion cannot be performed in Tennessee. He’s confident the bill will become law but a local women’s group is concerned.
“Anything we can do in the State of Tennessee to respect life and protect life is something that we need to do,” Rep. Hill said about his legislation.
The bill would ban the abortion of a viable fetus after 20 weeks, unless there’s a health risk to the mother.
“What the bill says is that at the beginning, the beginning at the 20 weeks mark, the doctor would check and test for viability, gestational age,” Rep Hill said.
Nancy Fischman, part of the Tennessee Democratic Party, the Democratic Party of Washington County as well as Women Matter Northeast Tennessee doesn’t agree with the legislation.
“This is just a ploy to try to overturn Roe Versus Wade,” Fischman said.
She believes an abortion is a personal decision between a woman and her doctor and politicians shouldn’t be involved. She ran against Hill for the state house seat last year.
“It’s something that’ll have an impact on women who are facing a very difficult time to begin with,” Fischman said.
She’s also worried about how this bill would be enforced.
The bill has yet to be signed by Governor Haslam.
“When it gets to us, we’ll have those conversations with the Attorney General and with our own review of the bill before we make that decision,” Governor Haslam said last week.
State Attorney General Herbert Slatery has called parts of the legislation, “constitutionally suspect,” but Rep. Hill disagrees.
“I adamantly disagree with him on that because we have over 20 other states that have the same or very similar language and these other 20 plus states have not been challenged in court,” Rep Hill said. Hill also said this bill was written with a constitutional attorney and it upholds current Supreme Court doctrine.
Hill added that Slatery has said publicly that he will defend the legislation in court if it ever comes to that.
As of Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Governor said in a statement: “The governor is reviewing the bill and having conversations with his counsel and the attorney general before making a decision on what action to take,” Press Secretary, Jennifer Donnals said.
Rep. Hill said he’s confident that bill will become law.
“I’ve spoken with the Governor’s office about it and in fact I talked to them yesterday about it and I do not believe that this legislation, based on what they told me, I do not believe this legislation is a candidate for a veto. I believe it’ll either be signed by Governor Haslam or he will allow it to become law without his signature,” Rep. Hill said.
Rep. Hill told us the governor usually has ten business days to make a decision once he receives a bill. He said he wants to thank the pro-life families in Northeast Tennessee, specifically the pro-life folks in Washington County who’ve shown him in support.
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