Lack of support spells end of "heartbeat bill," Van Huss takes different approach

Zach Vance • Feb 5, 2018 at 6:11 PM

Lacking support to pass a direct abortion ban, a local legislator amended his “Heartbeat Bill” to take a more roundabout approach to discouraging abortions in Tennessee. 

Last Wednesday, the House Health Subcommittee passed the “Heartbeat Reporting Bill,” an amended version of the original “heartbeat bill” introduced by pro-life advocate Rep. Micah Van Huss, R-Jonesborough. 

Before acknowledging his original bill — which would have banned all elective abortions once a fetal heartbeat was detected — lacked enough votes, Van Huss thanked all the people who supported his efforts, adding “if the unborn could speak, they would with their silent voices say, ‘thank you.’” 

His revised version doesn’t actually ban abortions, but it requires the results of an ultrasound be offered to mothers seeking an abortion.  

Citing the pro-life organization Mission Pre-Born, Van Huss said 80 percent of mothers who see an ultrasound “choose life,” rather than having an abortion. 

If the mother opts to learn the results of the ultrasound, she will be told whether the presence of a fetal heartbeat exists. 

The person administering the ultrasound must record whether a fetal heartbeat was detected and whether the patient was informed of the fetal heartbeat’s existence.

That data would then be sent to the Tennessee Department of Health, which would compile and include the heartbeat abortion statistics in its annual reporting. 

The legislation does address privacy concerns by stating nothing “shall be construed to require the release of data in a manner that could identify individual patients.” 

While fellow Northeast Tennesseans Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, called the bill “a real positive,” Davidson County Democrat Rep. John Ray Clemmons was more critical. 

“I do have some concerns with the legislation, what your intended effects are and the emotional harm that comes with a decision such as this,” Clemmons said. 

As long as the 6th District votes to send him to Nashville, Van Huss said he will continuing trying to abolishing abortion. 

“We need leadership in Tennessee with a step-by-step plan to abolish abortion in this state,” he said.

The bill will be heard by the the full House Health Committee next. 








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