As State Senators prepare to cast a vote on whether to bring the Heartbeat Bill (SB1236) to the Senate floor under a Rule 63 motion, and whether to support it in a final vote, a new Tennessee Star poll may bring clarity to the issue. The Triton Polling survey was conducted over four days (April 13-16) and polled 1003 likely Republican Party primary voters statewide. It has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.
The poll asked: The Tennessee Legislature recently failed to pass legislation called the Heartbeat Bill that would have provided legal protection for unborn babies once a heartbeat is detected, normally 6-8 weeks into pregnancy, and severely limited the opportunity for an abortion after that point. Would you be more or less likely to vote for a candidate who opposed or failed to support the Heartbeat Bill?
21.2 percent of responders said they would be MORE likely to support a candidate who OPPOSED the Heartbeat Bill; 65.5 percent would be LESS likely to support a candidate who OPPOSED the Heartbeat Bill; 5 percent said it would make no difference and 8.2 percent were not sure or didn’t know how it might impact their vote.
The House version of the Heartbeat Bill, HB 0077, passed the full House on March 7 by an overwhelming vote of 65 Ayes 21 Nays and 7 Present Not Voting. The Senate version was sent to Summer Study by the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it will die unless the Senate votes in favor of bringing it to the Senate floor directly pursuant to Rule 63.
Tennessee Pastors Network President Dale Walker has pointed out that: “Senators are faced with a clear choice to either support or not support unborn life with their vote on the Rule 63 motion. A vote against bringing this bill to the Senate for an up or down vote is a vote to kill it and is a vote for virtually unrestricted abortions to continue in Tennessee. A vote for the bill to proceed — and a vote for it in the Senate — is the only actual pro-Life position.”
In recent weeks, other states (such as Ohio) have passed similar legislation that protects unborn babies once their heartbeat begins. Tennessee Right to Life has been an outlier in opposing the Heartbeat Bill. 17 votes are needed to bring invoke Rule 63, and 17 votes are needed to secure passage of the bill.
Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill notes that Senators voting against the Rule 63 motion and/or against the bill if it makes it to a vote in the full Senate are “treading on thin ice with pro-Life Republican primary voters and the increasingly warm Spring temperatures are melting that thin ice quickly.”
“Pro-life voters have been energized by seeing Democrats passing bills authorizing late term abortions, and even expressing support for post-birth abortions, in states like New York and Virginia. And they have seen ‘red’ states pass heartbeat bills protecting babies despite opposition from the usual suspects like Planned Parenthood and radical pro-abortionists.”
“Tennessee voters are angry that a super-majority of Republicans in the State Senate apparently lack the will to protect unborn life despite those same legislators campaigning as staunch supporters of life,” Gill points out. “That anger is about to be expressed in Republican primaries next year if these legislators betray their claimed commitment to life and these poll numbers indicate that those who vote no on Rule 63 may not be back.”