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Requirement To Bury Or Cremate Fetal Remains Headed Toward Passage In Tennessee

Blake Farmer/WPLN

One anti-abortion proposal appears to be on the way toward becoming law this year in Tennessee.

It’s based on an Indiana law that’s already been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, requiring aborted fetuses to be buried or cremated.

Sponsors of this law (HB 1181) say they’re not trying to limit abortions, just honor the unborn child. But anti-abortion advocates acknowledge it is part of their larger campaign to end abortions altogether.

Elizabeth Matory, representing the national anti-abortion group And Then There Were None, told lawmakers on Wednesday that drawing attention to the logistics of abortion is persuasive. She says that’s what converted her from being a pro-choice Democrat. She’s now a Republican who ran for Congress in 2018.

“The moment that we articulate fetal remains — baby, your child … that’s when the argument stops,” she said in a hearing Wednesday of the House Health Committee.

But Democrats in the Tennessee legislature argue the law would bring unnecessary stress when women are making a difficult decision. They note that it would drive up the cost of an abortion, since either the abortion clinic or the patient has to pay for cremation or burial.

Also, it only affects the state’s three abortion clinics because hospitals successfully lobbied to exempt themselves.

The aborted fetus burial bill still has one committee to pass in the House before reaching full votes in the House and Senate. But other abortion bills are unlikely to pass, after Senate Speaker Randy McNally expressed his disinterest in installing more regulations that would likely land the state in court.