Bill requiring burial or cremation of aborted babies advances in Tennessee

Tennessee Capitol Credit Roman Korotkov   Shutterstock Tennessee state capitol./ Roman Korotkov/Shutterstock

A bill on the burial of the bodies of aborted fetuses advanced through the Tennessee Senate and House earlier this week. 

The bill, HB 1181, would require medical providers either to cremate or to bury the fetal remains following an abortion.

Republican lawmakers, such as Rep. Tim Rudd, said the bill is designed to honor the dignity of the human person.

“Tennessee code requires pets and animals to be disposed of by burial or cremation but there is no such law active in Tennessee for aborted fetal remains,” said Rudd, according to Associated Press. 

“I think it’s time for Tennessee to step up and give the same level of dignity given to a dead pet to a dead human being.”

Legislative panels in the GOP-controlled General Assembly advanced the bill April 7. Before the House and Senate declare a vote, the bill has one more committee to pass through in the House. 

If passed, the bill will need approval by Gov. Bill Lee.

Under the bill, medical providers would be required to cover the costs of either a burial or cremation of the fetal remains. As hospitals would be excluded under the bill, it would only affect the state’s three abortion clinics. 

The measure states, the AP reported, a pregnant woman “has a right to determine” the location and the type of disposal for the fetal remains. She may also choose not to exercise this right. 

The bill is based on an Indiana law which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2019. 

According to the AP, abortion advocates have decried the bill as unnecessary. Max Carwile, a community organizer with Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood, called the bill an overreach.

“I do not think our government should be in the business of legislating whether to or how we should grieve,” said Carwile.

“It is pure government overreach to dictate how our patients find closure or heal.”

During the April 7 hearing of the House Health Committee, Elizabeth Matory, representing the pro-life group And Then There Were None, said it is important to provide patients with all the information about an abortion. She said discovering the connection between human dignity and the unborn changed her pro-choice opinion, according to WKNO.

“The moment that we articulate fetal remains — baby, your child … that’s when the argument stops,” she said. 

Similar laws have been adopted elsewhere, including in Ohio and Texas.

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