Tennessee governor backs heartbeat abortion ban

Republican Gov. Bill Lee says he supports banning abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

Posted: Jan 30, 2019 1:08 PM

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Latest on the fetal heartbeat abortion ban bill in Tennessee (all times local):

11:50 a.m.

Republican Gov. Bill Lee says he supports banning abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

Lee told reporters Wednesday he supports any bill reducing the number of abortions in the state. He joins GOP leaders House Speaker Glen Casada and Senate Speaker Randy McNally in voicing support for the idea.

Lee said he would also look at the decision in Iowa last week, where a state judge struck down a heartbeat law.

Speaking generally, Lee said would look at any piece of legislation to decide whether he favors it, and the courts would have to decide for themselves whether it's constitutional or not.

Fetal heartbeat bills are at odds with the legal standard under the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling, which prohibits states from banning abortions before viability. But some national abortion opponents hope passing stricter prohibitions will lead to a Supreme Court review of Roe v. Wade.

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10 a.m.

Tennessee's top two Republican lawmakers are supporting legislation to ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

House Speaker Glen Casada said Tuesday he thinks the restriction is a fight worth having in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. That's a sentiment shared by some abortion opponents nationwide who hope a conservative court would uphold stricter abortion prohibitions.

Senate Speaker Randy McNally said he thinks courts would have ruled on other states' similar laws by the time Tennessee's bill would pass and be challenged.

Last week, a state judge struck down Iowa's heartbeat law. In Ohio, Republican ex-Gov. John Kasich twice vetoed similar legislation, but new Republican Gov. Mike DeWine has pledged to sign it. Other states are expected to consider heartbeat bills.

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