Legislators in Tennessee will consider a bill to ban all abortions and protect preborn children once a fetal heartbeat is detected. House Bill 0108 was introduced by Rep. James Van Huss (R-Jonesborough) in January, and last week House members moved the measure to committee. As written, the bill “requires fetal heartbeat testing prior to an abortion and prohibits abortions from the point a fetal heartbeat is detected except in certain medical emergencies.”
The introduction of Van Huss’s bill places Tennessee among several states that have considered “heartbeat” legislation. The first federal heartbeat bill was also introduced last year.
Science tells us that life begins at the moment of fertilization, and a heartbeat is an undeniable indication of life. Studies show that a baby’s heart begins to beat 22 days after fertilization, and recent research even suggests that a child’s heart may begin beating as early as 16 days. The Tennessee bill would require abortionists to give women the opportunity to see or hear the fetal heartbeat.
Van Huss introduced a similar bill last year, which was rejected following the opinion of Tennessee’s attorney general, who claimed that the legislation may be challenged in federal court. Federal appeals courts overturned heartbeat bills passed in North Dakota and Arkansas; however, the Supreme Court has yet to rule on this type of legislation and refused to hear the appeal.