Gov. Bill Lee introduces ‘comprehensive, pro-life legislation’

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Governor Bill Lee announced Thursday that he will submit “comprehensive, pro-life legislation” to the General Assembly this year, making Tennessee “one of the most pro-life states in the country.”

“I believe that every human life is precious, and we have a responsibility to protect it,” Gov. Lee explained. “Today, Tennessee is taking a monumental step in celebrating, cherishing, and defending life at every stage. I’m grateful to be joined by so many leaders in our state who are boldly standing up for our most vulnerable.”

According to the governor, the legislation would include prohibiting an abortion where a fetal heartbeat exists, requiring a mother to undergo an ultrasound prior to an abortion and prohibiting an abortion where the physician is aware that the decision to seek an abortion is motivated by the race, gender, or health or disability diagnosis of the unborn child.

To protect against legal challenges, Governor Lee explained the new law would also include a creative “ladder” provision, modeled after Missouri law, of sequential abortion prohibitions at two-week gestational age intervals, along with severability clauses for each step of the ladder.

“I support this initiative wholeheartedly and without reservation,” Lt. Gov. Randy McNally said. “As someone who takes seriously the cause of life, I am ecstatic to support this legislation.”

McNally added, “the many provisions of this bill represent great leaps forward for the cause of life in Tennessee. The destination has always been clear. The issue has been identifying the proper vehicle. We now have the proper vehicle. This comprehensive, tiered approach is our best chance of advancing the cause of life without sacrificing the gains we have made.”

“The General Assembly has been committed to making Tennessee a very strong pro-life state over the last decade,” Speaker Cameron Sexton explained. “Obviously, we are very supportive and appreciative of the Governor’s dedication to pro-life principles. We are looking forward to working with him and his team on this issue, as well as his legislative vision. I know members of the House and the chairmen are eager to review the proposed language and continue their strong support for life.”

Following the governor’s announcement, Tennessee Democratic Chair Mary Mancini released a statement: “No politician should be in the middle of the decision to end a pregnancy, choose adoption, or raise a child. This is always a heart wrenching decision and must be left to a woman, her family and her faith, in consultation with her doctor or health care provider.”

Mancini added, “if Republicans were acting in the best interests of women and families they would put forth real solutions. They would work with Democrats to legitimately reduce the number of unintended pregnancies through policy that will actually work: Age-appropriate reproductive health education, including teaching abstinence, and access to affordable contraceptives and affordable reproductive health for all.”

This is a developing story. Stay with News 2 and WKRN.com for updates.

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