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TN House passes abortion bill that would allow treatment terminating 'ectopic or molar pregnancy'

WBIR-TV Knoxville 4 days ago WBIR Staff

A bill making its way through the Tennessee legislature would all abortion treatments under two specific situations: an ectopic pregnancy or a molar pregnancy.

HB 0883 was introduced by Representative Esther Helton-Haynes (R - East Ridge). Its Senate version was introduced by Senator Richard Briggs (R - Knoxville).

It passed the house on Monday. Several amendments proposed by Representative Gloria Johnson (D - Knoxville) failed. Those amendments would have added protections for abortion treatments if a pregnancy was the result or rape or incest, and would have made other abortion treatments a Class-A misdemeanor.

It will be discussed in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

The amended version of the bill says licensed physicians would not commit a crime if they perform abortion services at a licensed hospital or an ambulatory surgical treatment center, as long as they decide it's necessary to prevent the pregnant person from dying or to prevent major bodily harm. They would also need to perform services that "provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive."

It explicitly says providing abortion services would still be a crime if a physician believes a pregnant person would intentionally hurt themselves should they give birth, or if their mental health would be harmed.

An ectopic pregnancy is a kind of condition where an egg is fertilized outside of the uterus, which could cause life-threatening injuries should it grow. A molar pregnancy is a kind of condition where a placenta does not form correctly, due an incorrect fertilization leading to a noncancerous tumor.

The bill was amended from its original version. The original version would have made the state capitol commission responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of a monument to "unborn children" at the state capitol. The amendment does not mention the monument, which state law still requires to be built using the Tennessee Monument to Unborn Children fund.

Critics of the bill said it does not go far enough to protect physicians who provide abortion services and does not provide exemptions in cases of rape or incest.

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