Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said Tuesday the state will do “whatever it takes” to defend the pro-life Heartbeat Bill in court.
U.S. District Judge William “Chip” Campbell in Nashville blocked the pro-life measure just hours after Gov. Lee signed it into law Monday.
Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the Center for Reproductive Rights asked the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee to block the bill after it passed the Legislature last month.
Campbell opted to wait for the bill to become law to rule on whether to block it. In granting the temporary restraining order Monday, he wrote that he’s “bound by the Supreme Court holdings prohibiting undue burdens on the availability of pre-viability abortions.”
Plaintiffs seeking to block the law quickly let the court know it was signed and became effective immediately, “meaning that nearly all abortions in Tennessee have been criminalized.” The court’s ruling followed shortly after, keeping the law blocked pending a July 24 hearing.
Lee began his Tuesday press briefing by discussing the “historic pro-life piece of legislation”
“It’s a comprehensive bill that protects the most vulnerable in our state,” he said. “There’s a legal challenge – that’s disheartening. But we’ll defend it in court because the lives of precious Tennesseans are worth defending.”
He was asked later in the press conference about the financial burden of defending the law in court. A reporter noted that state revenues are already struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is disheartening, but at the same time, as I said, the way to weigh that is that the lives of Tennesseans are worth defending and that’s what we’ll do. It’s very important that we defend and protect the lives of every Tennessean, the most vulnerable – one portion of the most vulnerable – being the unborn. That’s why we would make that decision to defend it,” said Lee.
When pressed on how much the state is willing to spend, Lee said his administration will do “whatever it takes.”
“We will defend it, whatever it takes in court, we’ll defend it,” he said.
As its name suggests, the Heartbeat Bill prohibits doctors from performing an abortion on “a pregnant woman whose unborn child has a fetal heartbeat.”
Other provisions in the bill prevent abortions from being performed based on the sex of the child, the race of the child, or a Down syndrome diagnosis in the unborn child.
Furthermore, doctors would be required to inform pregnant women of the gestational age of their unborn children, provide them with ultrasound images, and allow them to listen to the fetal heartbeat before performing an abortion.
The bill would also require health care facilities that provide abortions to post a sign with information about the possibility of reversing a chemically-induced abortion.
Watch the full press conference below:
– – –
Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Background Photo “Bill Lee Press Conference” by The Tennessean.