State Sen. Jim Tracy proposed legislation that would force a woman to get a "transabdominal ultrasound" -- in which a technician rubs a device over the abdomen to produce an image and heartbeat sounds from a fetus -- before getting an abortion.
Under the proposed law, if a woman refused to look at the image the technician would be required to describe any limbs or other physical features visible on the monitor. Critics point out a transabdominal ultrasound often fails to generate more than a blurry image during the first trimester, making the measure little more than a hurdle to getting an abortion.
"This is the kind of issue you have when you have non-medical professionals trying to legislate on a medical issue," said Jeff Teague, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee.
The (Nashville) Tennessean said Tuesday Tracy has announced plans to run a primary campaign against U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, an anti-abortion Republican who won a second term in Congress in 2012 despite revelations he urged his former wife to have two abortions.
Any measure passed by the Legislature would almost certainly face a court challenge, the newspaper said.
The Tennessee Constitution has a specific right to privacy clause that has made legal roadblocks to women's right to an abortion difficult to enact in the past, the report said.