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Tennessee flag logo and words life bills

Fetal Heartbeat Bill (SB 244 / HB 108)

BILL SUMMARY

Also known as the Fetal Heartbeat Bill, it bans abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected.

BILL ANALYSIS

It is questionable whether this would survive a constitutional challenge under existing Supreme Court precedent, as states can ban abortion after “viability” which, legally, is considered to occur at 24 weeks.

Passage of the bill could result in a lawsuit that would reach the U.S. Supreme Court and provide a context in which Roe v. Wade could be overturned.

As amended, if an ultrasound is performed prior to an abortion, requires the reporting of certain information related to whether a heartbeat was detected and requires woman/patient be given the option to be informed of the results.

BILL SPONSORS

Pody in the Senate, Van Huss in the House

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Full Text: Senate Bill / House Bill

BILL STATUS

Signed by the Governor 5/3/18. Public Chapter 862.

Tennessee flag logo and words life bills

20-Week Abortion Ban Bill (SB 766/ HB 101)

BILL SUMMARY

Prohibits abortion after 20 weeks with exceptions for the life and health of the mother.

BILL ANALYSIS

Sixteen states currently ban abortion after 20 weeks. It is questionable whether this would survive a constitutional challenge under existing U.S. Supreme Court precedent, as states can ban abortion after “viability” which, legally, is considered to occur at 24 weeks.

Passage of the bill could result in a lawsuit that would reach the U.S. Supreme Court and provide a context in which Roe v. Wade could be overturned.

BILL SPONSORS

Beavers in the Senate, Weaver in the House

TRACK THIS BILL

Full Text: Senate Bill / House Bill

BILL STATUS

No action taken in the House or Senate.

Tennessee flag logo and words family bills

Contraceptive Drugs Coverage (SB 1142 / HB 721)

BILL SUMMARY

Requires that every group health insurance policy, to the extent not preempted by federal law, have coverage for all contraceptive drugs and devices approved by the FDA.

BILL ANALYSIS

This is very similar to the Obamacare mandate on contraception, which resulted in a lawsuit from the Little Sisters of the Poor. The bill does offer a mild religious liberty exception but requires an organization to file for a religious exemption (subject to approval) and offer written notice to prospective enrollees.

BILL SPONSORS

Kyle in the Senate, Powell in the House

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Full Text: Senate Bill / House Bill

BILL STATUS

No action taken in the House or Senate.

Tennessee flag logo and words family bills

Natural Marriage Defense Act (SB 752 / HB 892)

BILL SUMMARY

This bill is also known as the Natural Marriage Defense Act. It declares that Tennessee will only recognize and give effect to marriages between one man and one woman and will not recognize any court decision that purports to strike down natural marriage.

BILL ANALYSIS

As with a similar bill filed last year, there are several potential legal issues with this bill as written, because of its requirement that the state ignore or “nullify” any court decision, including the U.S. Supreme Court, that issues a ruling contrary to Tennessee state policy on marriage. It could result in all local officials having to defend at local expense lawsuits by same-sex couples for civil rights violations and reimburse the litigants’ legal fees if they lose the lawsuits.

The bill is an improvement on last year’s bill in that would make the state liable to civil rights lawsuits for the non-issuance of same-sex marriage licenses instead of county clerks.

BILL SPONSORS

Beavers in the Senate, Pody in the House

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Full Text: Senate Bill / House Bill

BILL STATUS

The House Civil Justice Subcommittee adopted an amendment to indemnify officials who comply with existing license law and referred to 2018. No action taken in the House or Senate in 2018.

Tennessee flag logo and words family bills

Insemination Statute Repeal (SB 1153 / HB 1406)

BILL SUMMARY

Also known as the Insemination Statute Repeal, this bill repeals the statute that deems a child born to a married woman as a result of artificial insemination, with the consent of the married woman’s husband, to be the legitimate child of the husband and wife.

BILL ANALYSIS

This statute is unnecessary because the Tennessee Code already provides for a presumption of paternity when a child is born to a married husband and wife. In addition, the state’s attorney general has said that the law is unconstitutional after Obergefell v. Hodges. This statute is being used by private litigants as a legal basis for arguing that it is now unconstitutional for the state to define motherhood and fatherhood in relation to biological considerations and procreation.

BILL SPONSORS

Hensley in the Senate, Weaver in the House

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Full Text: Senate Bill / House Bill

BILL STATUS

No action taken in the House or Senate.

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