Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee Signs Bill Requiring Burial or Cremation of Fetal Remains

FILE - In this April 25, 2019 file photo, Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee talks to reporters at the Capitol in Nashville, Tenn. More than half of Lee’s newly appointed cabinet members, including his education czar and Tennessee’s Medicaid chief, didn’t submit applications or provide any documents outlining why they …
AP Photo/Kimberlee Kruesi, File

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed a bill into law that will require the burial or cremation of the remains of surgically aborted babies.

Lee signed HB1181/SB828 last week. The bill summary states:

Generally under present law, the method of disposition of an aborted fetus or aborted fetal tissue must be in conformity with the rules of the board for licensing healthcare facilities. This bill deletes that provision and instead requires that final disposition of fetal remains from a surgical abortion at an abortion facility be by cremation or interment. This bill provides that a pregnant woman who has a surgical abortion has the right to determine the following regarding the fetal remains:

(1) Whether the final disposition is by cremation or interment; and

(2) The location for the final disposition.

The bill also “requires an abortion facility to pay for and provide for the cremation or interment of the fetal remains from a surgical abortion performed at that facility.”

If the woman, however, chooses another location for final disposition of the fetal remains, other than that selected by the abortion facility, she is responsible for the costs related to the burial or cremation.

Lawmakers who sponsored the legislation published statements on Monday regarding Lee’s approval.

“Tennessee is overwhelmingly a right-to-life state,” said state Rep. Tim Rudd (R), according to the Murfreesboro Voice. “While it’s disheartening that we have to propose legislation to ensure a preborn child’s body will be treated with the same respect as any other human being, I’m grateful for the support.”

The measure does not restrict access to abortion, but provides directives for the disposal of aborted human remains, just as there are already regulations regarding the remains of pets.

“It is a tragedy in Tennessee that we regulate how veterinarians properly dispose of the remains of animals, but there are no regulations regarding human babies,” said state Sen. Janice Bowling (R). “These are the remains of human beings and should be treated as such. This new law corrects that oversight and ensures that the remains of unborn children are treated with dignity.”

Abortion rights advocates typically attempt to distract from the scientific fact that abortion ends the life of a human being.

In April, Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood sounded an alarm regarding the bill, referring to it as the “Medical Tissue Burial Bill”:

In 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a similar Indiana law. Planned Parenthood had filed a lawsuit challenging the law and the state’s solicitor general petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the case after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled the fetal remains measure was unconstitutional.

Breitbart News reported on Box v. Indiana Department of Health, No. 18-483 in the Supreme Court of the United States:

First, the Supreme Court summarily reversed the Seventh Circuit without requiring any oral argument or briefing on the fetal-remains provision, in a 7-2 decision where liberal Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan joined the majority.

“This Court has already acknowledged the State has a legitimate interest in proper disposal of fetal remains,” the Court explained in a short per curiam decision (“for the court,” meaning not authored by any individual justice).

The decision was written narrowly, as legal experts would expect in order to get two of the liberal justices to sign on. The opinion implicitly criticized the abortion-rights side for bad lawyering, noting that those lawyers failed to even offer an argument that the fetal-remains provision violated Casey’s legal test of imposing an “undue burden” on women seeking an abortion, and therefore that the Court was not ruling on whether the statute would have been struck down under that standard.

The legislation will take effect July 1.

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