Tenn. Gov. Lee Signs Bill Requiring the Burial or Cremation of Babies Killed by Abortion

By Michael W. Chapman | May 11, 2021 | 12:08pm EDT
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R).  (Getty Images)
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R). (Getty Images)

(CNS News) -- On Monday, Tennessee's Republican governor, Bill Lee, signed into law legislation that requires the burial or cremation of the remains of babies killed by surgical abortion. The facilities where the abortions occur will be required to do this, and the mother must fill out a form stating whether she wants the remains buried or cremated.

The law states, "A pregnant woman who has a surgical abortion has the right to determine the following regarding the fetal remains: (A) Whether the final disposition is by cremation or interment; and (B) The location for the final disposition."

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

An abortion facility "shall pay for and provide for the cremation or interment of the fetal remains from a surgical abortion performed at that facility," reads the law, and shall "maintain evidentiary documentation demonstrating the date and method of the disposition of fetal remains...."

The legislation, known as "The Unborn Child Dignity Act," passed in the Tennessee House 69-22 and in the Senate 27-6. The new law goes into effect on July 1, 2021.

On Monday, the bill's sponsor, State Sen. Janice Bowling (R) said, “I am very grateful this legislation was passed by the General Assembly and has now been signed into law. 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."

A woman undergoing an abortion. (Getty Images)
A woman undergoing an abortion. (Getty Images)

"These are the remains of human beings and should be treated as such," she said. "This new law corrects that oversight and ensures that the remains of unborn children are treated with dignity.”

Tennessee Rep. Tim Rudd (R), a co-sponsor of the bill, said, “Tennessee is overwhelmingly a right-to-life state. 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."

Tennessee State Sen. Janice Bowling (R)    (Getty Images)
Tennessee State Sen. Janice Bowling (R) (Getty Images)

“I thank the governor and my colleagues for their commitment to defend and honor all life with this important legislation," said Rudd. 

Reportedly, 11,000 surgical abortions were performed in Tennessee in 2020. Eleven other states have similar laws. 

Francie Hunt, executive director of Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood, told The Tennessean, "This lays bare that this is a targeted regulation of abortion providers and intended to shame patients. ... We have real health issues in Tennessee, and if politicians don’t want to be part of the solution, they should get out of our way."

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