Van Huss pushes ‘heartbeat bill’ against wishes of some anti-abortion activists

Even though some anti-abortion activists oppose the idea, state Rep. Micah Van Huss says he will push for a vote on the so-called “heartbeat bill” to prohibit abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. It’s scheduled for a hearing Wednesday in the House Health Subcommittee, the panel that voted 5-4 to in 2017 to postpone any action until 2018, a move Van Huss now says “in essence doomed over 3,500 babies to death.”

From The Nashville Ledger:

Tennessee Right to Life president Brian Harris testified against the bill in committee in 2017 and continues to oppose it. House Republican Majority Leader Glen Casada also is counseling Van Huss to drop the matter.

“The pro-life community says it’s not good for the cause,” Casada says, adding several other pro-life legislators believe it causes problems for other abortion-related measures.

Tennessee Right to Life wants to support legislation that stands a stronger chance of holding up in court, and until it can find five pro-life votes on the U.S. Supreme Court, it remains leery of Van Huss’ bill, according to Harris.

“With all due respect to the sponsor, we think he has the cart before the horse,” Harris says.

Courts have ruled that no abortion prior to viability of the fetus can be criminalized, according to Harris, and the U.S. Supreme Court has already struck down the efforts of two states to enact a similar “heartbeat” law. The court refused to hear a third state case.

Excerpt from a Johnson City Press interview with Van Huss (R-Jonesborough):

“They really just don’t want to vote for it, which is mind-boggling to me. When I get down here, so few people have a spine where they don’t want to vote on a piece of legislation because they’re in a hard spot with it. Well, I’m sorry, but my constituents didn’t send me here to not vote on a piece of legislation. Have the backbone to say “yes or no” and quit playing games. Well, they’re playing games with the ‘heartbeat bill’ so we’ll see soon hopefully what’s going to happen.”

…“The Tennessee Right to Life (organization president) last year told me they were against it because they did not want to make waves, poke the bear, or so to say make the judges who were ruling on Amendment 1 mad. But Amendment 1 passed (appeals court) a few weeks ago so that argument, or the official reason they told me, is over.

“I think, from what I can tell, the best reason they don’t want me to bring it is because Planned Parenthood is going to make money (by requesting for donations) if this legislation goes to court. First of all, I think everyday an abortion spends in court is what? Eight babies that don’t get aborted that day. So I don’t think that’s a bad thing to put Planned Parenthood or doctors in court who would do that.”

… “On the constitutionality, the partial-birth abortion ban failed in court 42 times. The one that is important is the 43rd time when Nebraska’s partial-birth abortion ban was upheld by the United States Supreme Court, making all partial-birth abortions illegal.

“So, the question becomes: Yes, the heartbeat bill probably would be challenged in court but are you willing to fight? There is no guarantee the Tennessee legislature will have a pro-life majority come November. So while I am where I am, I feel its my duty to fight for these babies.”

Note: A post after last year’s vote on the bill is HERE.

UPDATE: A Monday Tennessee Star report — under the headline Despite Strong National Pro-Life Sentiment, Heartbeat Bill May Be Killed in Tennessee General Assembly Committees — goes into more detail on the 2017 committee vote. It’s HERE.

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