Efforts are under way to change abortion law in Tennessee, but one member of the House suspects the key to accomplishing it will be in the hands of voters.
Tennessee Representative James Van Huss of Jonesborough is taking the lead with a "heartbeat bill" that would ban abortions when a heartbeat can be detected – and that's at about the sixth week of pregnancy. As introduced, HB0108 "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 Republican lawmaker says according to the latest statistics, that could save the lives of about 5,500 babies a year.
"I do believe life begins at conception, but the heartbeat is really the earliest detectable time of a heartbeat because of technology," he explains. "We can't really detect conception."
Van Huss has had to make some changes in the bill because of opposition in the House Health Committee – opposition he attributes to a leadership vacuum.
"The reason, my opinion, why I do not have the votes in the committee is the lack of leadership here in Tennessee – [we] need leadership with a step-by-step plan to abolish completely abortion in Tennessee," he tells OneNewsNow. "I'm hopeful [with] the gubernatorial race this year that we can get some real leadership in Tennessee."
Some opponents argue the bill would be unconstitutional, but Van Huss contends it's the courts that render constitutional opinions, not the legislature.
The legislator filed a similar bill last year but it failed after the state attorney general said it would likely be challenged in federal courts.