Lawmakers have agreed to shelve a plan that would have required women undergoing abortions to view their ultrasound and hear the heartbeat days before the procedure.
Instead, the pair of legislators sponsoring the bill said they will refocus their energy on convincing voters to approve a constitutional amendment in two years to remove abortion protections from the state’s guiding document, according to a press release.
“This constitutional resolution is the cornerstone of future legislation to protect life in Tennessee,” said Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) a Congressional hopeful who is abandoning the “ultrasound bill” this session. “We will be focusing all of our efforts on promoting its passage on the 2014 ballot.”
The bill, also sponsored by Rep. Rick Womick (R-Rockvale), would have required women to see a real-time ultrasound of the unborn embryo or fetus in their womb and listen to the heartbeat. Women who refuse to view the image would have to listen to the doctor detail the development of the scene, including body parts. The bill also would have built in an up to three-day waiting period before undergoing the abortion.
Critics say the move is meant to further the pro-life agenda by guilting women out of deciding on an abortion. Proponents say the bill would ensure women have all the information they can get before making a decision. Similar provisions are on the books in eight states.
The Republican-led legislature wants to amend the Tennessee Constitution to allow lawmakers and the governor to decide whether abortions should be protected by law. The constitutional amendment, known as SJR127, will go before voters during the next governor’s race, which is set for November 2014.