Tennessee lawmakers consider banning abortion once a woman knows she’s pregnant

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A crowd packs a legislative hearing room to hear arguments over a measure that could ban abortions in Tennessee (Photo: Anita Wadhwani)

Newsweek. Tennessee lawmakers are considering a total ban on abortion by cutting off access to the procedure once a woman knows she’s pregnant. If the legislation is passed, it will be one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the United States.

State senators will reconvene this week to discuss a “fetal heartbeat” bill, which would prohibit abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy. The measure was passed by the House of Representatives in March but stalled in the Senate.

More than 20 witnesses from both sides of the abortion debate will testify on the issue before the state’s judiciary committee on Monday and Tuesday. During the two-day session, the committee will also discuss an 11-page amendment to the original fetal heartbeat bill that includes a drastic change to the definition of fetal viability.

Under Roe v. Wade, the Constitution protects a woman’s right to abortion prior to the viability of a fetus. The Supreme Court considered viability to be the point at which a fetus can survive on its own outside of the womb, which is usually between 24 to 28 weeks into pregnancy.

According to CBS News, the committee (which has seven Republicans and two Democrats) will likely approve of these changes. The amended bill would then be put up for a vote in January 2020.

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