A bill banning most abortions once a heartbeat is detected has cleared a key hurdle in the Tennessee Legislature.
The House Health Committee on Tuesday voted 15-4 to send the legislation to the House floor for a full vote, with only Democratic members voting in opposition.
Supporters of the bill broke out in applause once the committee approved it.
Tennessee is among several states with pending bills to ban most abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, about six weeks into pregnancy. Conservative legislatures are pushing increasingly strict anti-abortion laws in an effort to trigger a legal challenge to the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that established a nationwide right to abortion.
Critics of the bill predict enactment of the fetal heartbeat measure would result in a certain legal challenge.
HB 00747: Abortion - As introduced, prohibits abortions from the point a fetal heartbeat is detected; creates exceptions. - Amends TCA Title 39, Chapter 15, Part 2 and Title 68, Chapter 11, Part 2. SB 1236.