The Tennessee Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimonies this week for an amendment to a bill that would affirm that life begins at conception and prohibit abortion after an unborn child’s heartbeat is detected or with increased levels of the human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) hormone. Liberty Counsel Senior Litigation Counsel Richard Mast presented testimony regarding the precedential frailties of Roe v. Wade during the senate summer study session.
Amendment 1 to SB 1236 would revise the “heartbeat bill” previously passed in the House in March but stalled in the Senate. Rather than limiting access to abortion after an unborn baby’s cardiac activity is detected, the amendment redefines fetal viability based on objective medical facts. The amended bill would be scheduled for a vote in January 2020, when the legislature reconvenes.
The amendment is based on the fact that “’viable’ or ‘viability’ and ‘nonviable’ are accepted and published scientific medical terms applicable to the normal development of an unborn child, even in the first trimester and it is established and accepted science that, within the framework of human existence, life begins at conception.” In addition, “the use of serial HCG determinations and sonographic evaluation to document the presence or absence of cardiac activity is standard medical practice outlined in standard medical texts which instruct medical providers in the proper determination of pregnancy viability.” “When a pregnancy is evaluated before the heartbeat is detectable, the accepted medical science within obstetrics presumes that the pregnancy is viable when there is an increase in the HCG of at least 66% in a forty-eight-hour period.”
Mast stated in his testimony to the state’s judiciary committee that: “There was no historical foundation for a ‘right’ to abortion. Liberty Counsel has amassed substantial documentation about the non-historicity of a claimed right to abortion. The lack of Roe’s historic foundation would be evident under a Ninth Amendment approach: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.’ Where was the contemporary list and authoritative treatment of ‘other rights” retained by the people to be found? In the Common Law – which was ignored or misconstrued by Roe.”
Liberty Counsel’s Richard Mast testifies during committee session.
Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “Medical science has confirmed that every human life begins at conception. There is no reliable historical evidence that abortion was ever considered a constitutional right. It should go without saying that every unborn baby has value, no matter the stage or circumstances,” said Staver.