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Tennessee Gov. Bill LeeWikimedia Commons

NASHVILLE, Tennessee, January 31, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Tennessee may join the growing list of states moving to protect babies as soon as their heartbeats can be detected, judging by the state’s new Republican Gov. Bill Lee.

GOP state Rep. James Van Huss introduced a bill in the General Assembly that would require abortionists to test for and document fetal heartbeats before abortion, and if one is found they would be barred from committing the abortion except in medical emergencies. Preborn babies’ hearts finish forming around seven or eight weeks into pregnancy.

The Associated Press reported that Lee, who was elected in November, told reporters Wednesday that he examines bills to decide for himself whether they’re worth supporting, and “courts will have to decide for themselves” whether to uphold them as constitutional. “I would support any bill that reduces the number of abortions in the state,” he added.

Tennessee Republican Attorney General Herbert Slatery argued in 2017 that a heartbeat bill would be “constitutionally suspect,” but House Speaker Glen Casada and Senate Speaker Randy McNally both back the measure. “I think it's a fight worth having in front of the Supreme Court. I really do,” Casada said.

Heartbeat bills ban abortion far earlier than the limits set by Roe v. Wade, which some Republicans see as an sign to turn back and others relish as a chance to make the Supreme Court reconsider the 1973 ruling. It’s unknown how President Trump’s two SCOTUS nominees, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, will vote on Roe; there is also speculation as to how long pro-abortion Ruth Bader Ginsburg will remain on the Court, or how Chief Justice John Roberts would vote.

Tennessee follows Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, and South Carolina, all of which have either enacted or pushed heartbeat bills recently.

Lee’s predecessor, Gov. Bill Haslam, signed legislation to exclude Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers from receiving health care subsidies, and the state’s constitution declares it contains no “right” to abortion.

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