Tennessee lawmakers have passed a bill that would require the remains of aborted children to be either buried or cremated. The bill passed the state House last Monday with a vote of 69-22 and the Senate last Wednesday with a vote of 27-6. It now heads to the desk of Governor Bill Lee, who is expected to sign the legislation.
The Unborn Child Dignity Act requires that the remains of preborn children who are killed in surgical abortions at abortion facilities must be buried or cremated, with the abortion facility footing the bill. It doesn’t apply to abortions committed at hospitals, or when law enforcement officers are collecting evidence in rape investigations. The measure also states that the pregnant mother has the right to determine the method and location for the remains if she so chooses, but if she opts for a different location of burial she must cover the costs.
Representative Tim Rudd, the bill’s House sponsor, said that the goal of this bill was to “restore the dignity of this unborn child.”
“This legislation does not limit or restrict an abortion or access to an abortion,” he said. “The legislation ensures that a surgically aborted child’s body is treated with the same respect as any other human being. It requires the body receive a burial or be cremated. Currently, Tennessee law grants guidelines for the disposal of pets and animals, but gives no such dignity to aborted children.”
Senator Janice Bowling, the bill’s sponsor in the Senate, said that the bill would ensure that the remains of the thousands of preborn children killed in the state each year would get the dignity they deserve. “While human fetal remains can be disposed of humanely, they are often and most often not. They are disposed of with medical waste or dumped in the landfills in the trash, and there’s even reports that some are put into disposals,” she said. “This legislation strives to extend the same protections, respect, and dignity to a deceased, surgically aborted child as granted to any other deceased human being,” she added.
The bill is very similar to an Indiana law that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court after being challenged in 2019. In that ruling, Justice Clarence Thomas said, “I would have thought it could go without saying that nothing in the U.S. Constitution or any decision of this court prevents a state from requiring abortion facilities to provide for the respectful treatment of human remains.”
If Gov. Lee signs the bill into law, it will go into effect on July 1.
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