Tennessee House rules debated over fetal heartbeat bill conversation


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee House Democrats are not staying silent about being unheard on a controversial abortion bill, but the Republican House Speaker maintains he was within the rules. 

The issue continues to show the deep divide between Republicans and Democrats over the abortion issue on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill. 

It happened Thursday during the fetal heartbeat debate when you could hear shouts from House Democrats after their party member, Rep. Gloria Johnson, was not called on to present her amendment to allow abortion in cases of rape or incest. 

Several other amendments, all from Republicans, were debated prior to Rep. Johnson not being allowed to speak.  

“The Republicans did everything they could to silence her and silence Tennessee women,” House Democrat Leader Mike Stewart told News2.   

Republican Speaker Glen Casada said he followed House rules in not calling on Rep. Johnson after House Republican Leader William Lamberth called for a vote in what is referred to as moving the “previous question.” 

“Under Parliamentary procedure when someone moves previous question that takes precedent over amendments,” said Speaker Casada on Thursday. 

The GOP-dominated House agreed by the necessary margin to move ahead with the fetal heartbeat bill vote.  

Democrat House Caucus Chair Mike Stewart says his party would not have done it that way if they were the super-majority dominating the chamber. 

“If Rep. Van Huss (fetal heartbeat bill sponsor) wanted to speak on this issue and his views are very different from mine which are very conservative, it would not even occur to me to silence him.  I think people should speak on issues of importance,” said Rep. Stewart. 

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