Tennessee passes 6-week abortion ban during last-second budget negotiation
Opponents say they will take state to court over law.
The Tennessee state legislature passed a restrictive ban on abortions in the state during the early morning hours Friday in a closed-door session.
And opponents of the legislation, which bans abortions done as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, have already said they are going to challenge the issue in court.
Under the provisions of the bill, doctors would also be prohibited from conducting an abortion procedure if the patient is seeking one because of the baby’s sex, race or "a prenatal diagnosis, test, or screening indicating Down syndrome or the potential for Down syndrome in the unborn child."
The bill, which voted along party lines with Republican majority in both the state House of Representatives and state Senate and has the support of Gov. Bill Lee, does not make exceptions for rape or incest but allows for procedures if the life of the patient is at risk. Medical professionals are also mandated to show ultrasound images to the patient.
Health care providers would be fined $10,000 for violating the measure.
Democratic leaders and the American Civil Liberties Union argued against the last-minute vote without any public viewing and warned that the measure would be hard on low-income parents who cannot travel out of state to get an abortion. The ACLU said it plans to take Tennessee lawmakers to court.
"Lawmakers used this measure in a game of political maneuvering to pass the state budget – pushing it through without regard for the actual Tennesseans who will be denied access to the care they need," Hedy Weinberg, the executive director of ACLU Tennessee, said in a statement Friday.
Similar bills that banned abortion procedures at six weeks of pregnancy were struck down in states such as Ohio. None are currently in effect.