Tennessee Gov. signs abortion ban bill into law; ACLU-TN urged veto

(MGN Online)

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has signed a bill into law that would ban abortions after 20 weeks if doctors determine the fetus is viable.

The ban would not apply in medical emergencies or if the mother faces risks of death or serious damage to a major bodily function.

“The Tennessee Infants Protection Act prohibits purposely performing post-viability abortions, except when a physician determines in his or her good faith medical judgment that either the unborn child is not viable or that the procedure is necessary to prevent serious risk to the mother. Rather than being a “20-week abortion ban,” as some have described it, the bill requires physicians to assess viability beginning at 20 weeks gestational age, absent a medical emergency," Haslam said.

The Tennessee attorney general's office has said that it would defend the measure if it were to become law, despite previously calling the legislation "constitutionally suspect."

“The Tennessee Attorney General has said he would defend this law, and the United States Supreme Court has not yet decided the mental health exception issue discussed in the Attorney General’s opinion. For those reasons, I have signed this legislation into law," Haslam said.

Meanwhile, the ACLU of Tennessee urged a veto, citing "SB 1180/HB 1189 essentially bans abortions after 20-weeks except in medical emergencies, makes the definition of "medical emergency" harder to meet, and places the burden on doctors to prove their innocence should the state try to prosecute them under this law."

While The "Tennessee Right to Life" supported Haslam's choice.

"Tennessee Right to Life thanks Governor Haslam for his demonstrated commitment to doing everything possible constitutionally to defend and protect vulnerable unborn children," Brian Harris, the organization's president, said. "His administration has been tireless in supporting common-sense measures which affirm the dignity human life in our state and pro-life Tennesseans are clearly very grateful to the Governor."

*The AP contributed to this report.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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