Tennessee Fetal Heartbeat Bill (HB 108)
This law was last updated on Dec 13, 2018
As introduced, HB 108 would prohibit all abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, except in the case of a medical emergency.
A fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks of pregnancy—two weeks after a woman’s first missed period—and well before many women even realize that they are pregnant.
The bill would require a physician to first determine whether the fetus the pregnant person is carrying has a detectable heartbeat. An ultrasound would be required to determine the presence of a fetal heartbeat and such testing must be consistent with “standard medical practice.” At the same time, the provision states that a transvaginal ultrasound is not required, which might be a source of confusion for abortion providers attempting to comply with this bill.
The person who determines the presence or absence of a fetal heartbeat would be required to:
- Record in the pregnant person’s medical record the estimated gestational age of the fetus, the ultrasound method used to test for a fetal heartbeat, the date and time of the test, and the results of the test; and
- Inform the pregnant person in writing if a fetal heartbeat is detected.
The person who performs the ultrasound for the presence of a fetal heartbeat would be required to give the pregnant person the option to view or hear the fetal heartbeat.
A physician who performs an abortion or attempts to procure a miscarriage after the detection of a fetal heartbeat and before or during viability under the medical emergency exception would be required to declare the following in a written statement to be placed in the patient’s medical records:
- That the procedure is necessary, to the best of the physician’s reasonable medical judgement, due to a medical emergency; and
- The specific condition that constitutes the medical emergency and that the procedure is asserted to address, and the medical rationale for the physician’s conclusion that the procedure is necessary to address the medical emergency.
A physician who performs an abortion or attempts to procure a miscarriage prior to determining a fetal heartbeat due to a medical emergency would be required to note the following in the patient’s medical records:
- The physician’s belief that a medical emergency necessitating the procedure existed; and
- The condition of the pregnant patient that prevented compliance.
Companion bill to SB 244.
An amended version of the bill passed the house on February 12, 2018, by a 74-20 vote.
As amended, HB 108 requires, in the event of an ultrasound being performed prior to an abortion, the person who performs the ultrasound to offer the pregnant person the opportunity to learn the results of the ultrasound.
If the pregnant person elects to learn the results of the ultrasound, the person who performs the ultrasound or a qualified health-care provider in the facility must, in addition to any other information provided, inform the pregnant person of the presence or absence of a fetal heartbeat and document that the patient has been informed.
As amended, the bill also requires a physician to include whether or not a heartbeat was detected in each abortion report required under law.
The amendment requires the department of health to include data about the detection of heartbeats and the method employed for induced terminations of pregnancies in its annual report of selected induced termination of pregnancy data. The report must differentiate between medical and surgical methods and, for surgical methods, must differentiate between such methods to the extent the data permits.
Passed the senate on April 18, 2018, by a 24-4 vote.
Signed by Gov. Bill Haslam (R) on May 3, 2018.
- Gary Hicks
- Rick Tillis
- Mark Lovell
- John Holsclaw
- Tim Rudd
- Ron Gant
- Bud Hulsey
- Kent Calfee
- Jerry Sexton
- Dan Howell
- David Byrd
- Sabi Kumar
- Jeremy Faison
- John Ragan
- Mark Pody
- Tilman Goins
- Kelly Keisling
- Matthew Hill
- Timothy Hill
- Jimmy Matlock
- David Alexander
- Sheila Butt
- Courtney Rogers
- Mike Sparks
- William Lamberth
- Terri Lynn Weaver