Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, a Republican, announced a suite of legislation on Thursday that would restrict abortions throughout the state.
Flanked by dozens of Republican members of the state House and Senate, Lee touted comprehensive abortion restrictions including a plan to introduce a fetal heartbeat bill, prohibiting an abortion if a doctor can detect the heartbeat of the fetus.
“We know that when a mother views her unborn child, and hears a heartbeat, hearts and minds are changed,” Lee said at the press conference. The Governor said the House and Senate will attempt to pass the new restrictions during the upcoming legislative session.
Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally, also a Republican, had opposed a fetal heartbeat bill introduced to the state legislature in 2019, due to what he said were fears the bill would not survive a challenge in the judicial system. However, McNally came out in favor of the current legislative proposal.
“The issue has been identifying the proper vehicle. We now have the proper vehicle,” McNally said. “This comprehensive, tiered approach is our best chance of advancing the cause of life without sacrificing the gains we have made.”
Fetal heartbeat bills have recently been passed in Georgia, Mississippi, Ohio, Kentucky, and Louisiana. In Louisiana, Governor John Bel Edwards signed the bill into law, however all the bills are currently blocked by challenges in court.
The announcement comes one day before the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C.
President Trump is set to be the first president in history to address the march in person. Trump has taken a number of steps in recent weeks to court Christians ahead of the 2020 reelection campaign, including the proposal of rules designed to protect religious freedom in federally-funded schools.
The Susan B. Anthony List, one of the nation’s largest pro-life groups, announced on January 17 it would contribute $52 million toward Trump’s reelection and other Republican candidates.