NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) – Tennessee will soon become the last state to require certain medical providers to incinerate or bury fetal remains for surgical abortions under legislation recently signed by Republican Gov. Bill Lee.
Approximately ten other Republican-majority states have enacted similar laws across the country despite objections from reproductive rights advocates, who argue that these requirements are unnecessary and stigmatize a legally available procedure.
However, supporters of these laws claim that it will protect human dignity without interfering with a woman’s choice of abortion.
Lee quietly signed the measure last week, which will be implemented starting July 1st. The vocal governor against abortion last year signed one of the strictest abortion bans in the country. That law, which banned abortions in just six weeks, was immediately barred from enforcement due to a legal challenge.
Under the new law, certain medical providers must remove fetal remains from surgical abortions by incineration or burial and cover the costs of disposal.
The measure states that the pregnant woman “has the right to determine” the method and location for the final removal of the fetus, if she so desires, but if she chooses a different location she would have to bear some cost. Hospitals are excluded from the bill.
The language of Tennessee law reflects an Indiana version that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2019. In an unsigned opinion, judges said the case did not involve limits on abortion rights.
Indiana was one of the first states to pass fetal remains laws in 2016 after anti-abortion activists posted a covert video of Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal tissue transfer. The videos angered conservatives across the country, but investigations cleared the group of misdeeds.