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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

Gov. Lee to pitch sweeping abortion bans in Tennessee; Planned Parenthood, Pro-Life advocates respond

One of the Tennessee’s most divisive issues is back in the spotlight. Governor Bill Lee is promising to propose new legislation that would ban abortions o...

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – One of the Tennessee’s most divisive issues is back in the spotlight. Governor Bill Lee is promising to propose new legislation that would ban abortions once a heartbeat is detected.

“No one is more vulnerable than the unborn,” Lee said.

He said he believed the legislation would put Tennessee at the forefront of protecting life.

“We saw it as a politically divisive move it was using abortion as a wedge issue to continually divide and polarize Tennesseans,” said Francie Hunt, the executive director of Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood.

It was tough criticism following Governor Lee’s plan to propose a bill banning abortions once a heartbeat is detectable.

“It would be taking away their power to make their decisions regarding their own family.”

Last year, Tennessee lawmakers struggled to pass previous “fetal heartbeat bills” like other surrounding conservative states like Mississippi and Arkansas, in a race to challenge the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

Sherri Lemons is an abortion doula.

“I have never in the three years that I have been doing this seen anything that is shameful, that should be illegal or frankly should even be frowned upon,” said the Planned Parenthood volunteer.

Lee’s legislation would require an ultrasound before an abortion and ban physicians from performing abortions if the mother’s motivation is the sex, race or disability of the baby.

For Memphis Advocates for Life, if the bill passes, it’s only a small step.

“It’s really unfortunate that we’re at a time where we think it is empowering to women to tell women that they need to be free that they need to be able to kill their children,” said Jessie Wade, the executive director of Memphis Coalition for Life.

Gov. Lee says there are components to the bill that are still being finalized. Lee said the legislation includes a “ladder” provision which activates less strict abortions bans if shot down in court.

Planned Parenthood will travel for advocacy on the hill trip next Tuesday. Both Planned Parenthood and Gov. Lee’s office say they are prepared for a legal battle.