Tennessee governor signs bill banning most abortions after 20 weeks

Tennessee governor signs bill banning most abortions after 20 weeks

May 12th, 2017 by Andy Sher in Breaking News

NASHVILLE - Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has signed a bill into law that bans abortions after 20 weeks if the fetus is determined to be viable by doctors.

In a signing statement, Haslam continued to insist the new law is not a "20-week abortion ban," although critics charge it largely is with some exceptions.

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The American Civil Liberties Union-Tennessee had urged Haslam to veto the bill that lawmakers passed during their just-completed session.

The ban won't apply in medical emergencies where the mother faces risks of death or serious damage to a major bodily function. 

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But the attending physician who makes that determination will have to have a second opinion from an independent physician. 

The law subjects physicians to criminal charges for violations. 

"I have reviewed the final language of SB 1180/HB 1189 and its potential impact," Haslam's statement said. 

"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 noted that Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery has said he would defend the law. 

Moreover, Haslam said, the U.S. 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."