Tennesee Gov. Bill Lee said Thursday there are no plans to introduce an abortion law similar to the one that recently went into effect in Texas, adding that his office is awaiting the results of a court ruling on an abortion ban that he signed into last year.
The Texas law went into effect after the Supreme Court issued a 5–4 ruling to deny an emergency request from abortion providers to block the law. The measure effectively bans nearly all abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, occurring usually within six weeks of a pregnancy.
Last year, Lee signed off on one of the strictest abortion bans in the country, although it was promptly blocked by federal court from being implemented. The governor has since vowed to do “whatever it takes in court” to defend the mandate.
In comments to reporters, Lee stated that he is planning to wait for a court ruling on an abortion ban that Tennessee already passed.
“I haven’t read the Texas law. So I can’t really speak to the particular nuances of that piece of legislation. I can only speak to what we’re doing here,” said Lee, a Republican.
And his office, Lee said, does “not have any current plans to move forward beyond what we are currently awaiting, which is a ruling from the court on the existing piece of legislation that we have.”
Lee added that he hopes the “unborn are protected in any way that we can see that protection for them” in his state.
Tennessee is awaiting a ruling on a similar piece of legislation that was passed in 2020 that also bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be heard.
Earlier this year, Tennessee federal Judge William Campbell issued an injunction on the measure and argued that “the public interest will not be harmed by preserving the status quo.”
Texas’s law allows private citizens—except for an individual who impregnated a woman through rape or incest—to sue physicians who perform abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
“The applicants now before us have raised serious questions regarding the constitutionality of the Texas law at issue,” the Supreme Court’s majority wrote in an opinion earlier this week. “But their application also presents complex and novel antecedent procedural questions on which they have not carried their burden.”
A number of pro-life organizations such as the Texas Alliance for Life praised the Supreme Court’s decision, while pro-abortion groups decried the move.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.