The state Houses in Georgia and Tennessee have passed measures that would ban most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected — usually six or seven weeks into pregnancy.
In Atlanta, Georgia, the legislation passed Thursday night, 93-73, but not without significant debate and tension.
Some Democrats made a point of walking out before the bill was even introduced, reported WSBTV:
In a remarkable show of defiance, House Democrats turned their backs on the Acworth lawmaker sponsoring the so-called heartbeat bill before it was introduced.
House Speaker David Ralston reprimanded them.
“I guess we have people in violation of the rules of the House. The gentleman will proceed, and this will be dealt with later,” he said.
State Rep. Ed Setzler, who sponsored House Bill 481, said his legislation “seeks to recognize that the child in the womb that is living distinct from their mother has a right of life that is worthy of protection.”
Prior to the vote to approve the heartbeat abortion ban, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp said in a statement:
Georgia is a state that values life. We shield the vulnerable and shelter the innocent. I applaud the Health and Human Services Committee for advancing legislation to protect the unborn. I encourage the House and Senate to do the same. This is a powerful moment in Georgia. It’s bigger than politics and partisanship. Let’s champion life today and ensure that all Georgians – including the unborn – have the chance to live, grow, and prosper.
Planned Parenthood Southeast condemned the state House’s approval of the legislation:
Georgia lawmakers: if you chose to vote against women yesterday, then we’re looking forward to returning the favor in your next election. https://t.co/lBYlRIIez9
— Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates (@PPSE_Advocates) March 8, 2019
Jane Robbins, who is affiliated with Concerned Women for America, noted the sharp divide between states allowing abortion even moments before birth and those protecting human life as early as possible.
“While some states are moving to protect infanticide, last night the Georgia House joined other state legislatures going in the opposite direction – protecting innocent human life even in its early stages,” she told Breitbart News. “We think with the leadership of the Governor and Lt. Governor, we can get this done in the Senate as well. Thousands of lives are at stake.”
House lawmakers in Tennessee also passed a similar bill Thursday. House Bill 77 was approved 65-21.
“Colleagues, we cannot continue to allow the slaughter of the unborn while we hope for better circumstances,” said bill sponsor Micah Van Huss, a Republican, from the House floor, according to the Tennessean.
GOP Rep. Matthew Hill called the legislation “long overdue,” but he urged the state House to also adopt an amendment – which it approved – that would ensure the state’s current 20-week abortion ban remains in place if the heartbeat legislation is struck down in court.
“It is not overly complicated,” Hill said. “We have a responsibility as the representatives of our districts, of our citizens, to ensure that life, innocent life, is protected in all its stages. We will be able to inject some common sense into our code.”
Tennessee Right to Life, however, has not endorsed the heartbeat legislation.
According to a press release, the pro-life organization expressed concern that the heartbeat bills of other states, such as North Dakota, Arkansas, and Iowa, have been struck down as unconstitutional.
Instead, the Right to Life group is endorsing the Human Life Protection Act (HB 1029), which has been drafted by pro-life constitutional attorney Paul B. Linton and sponsored by GOP state Rep. Susan Lynn.
“HB 1029 provides broader protections for the unborn and abortion-vulnerable women by restoring Tennessee’s pre-Roe statutes upon the overturn of Roe, in full or in part, by the U.S. Supreme Court,” Tennessee Right to Life stated. “As a result, HB 1029 does not face the same legal challenges as the heartbeat ban for the possibility of building additional case law in support of Roe’s precedent.”