In a partisan 27-6 vote, members of the GOP-controlled Tennessee Senate moved to pass a controversial bill regarding surgical abortions and the accompanying fetal remains.
The proposed legislation requires clinics that offer surgical abortions to ask patients whether they would like to bury or cremate the fetal remains. Those who opt out would be required to sign a waiver.
Furthermore, if a patient selects a service not offered by the clinic, they will then be charged for the process. Otherwise, the clinic will incur the costs for the offered services.
The bill now advances to Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, a Republican governor who is likely to sign the GOP-sponsored bill. Last year, the governor made headlines when he submitted comprehensive pro-life legislation to the Tennessee General Assembly.
"I believe that every human life is precious, and we have a responsibility to protect it," Lee said of his proposed legislation at the time, emphasizing his pro-life stance.
Opponents of the bill, like Democratic Sen. Jeff Yarbro, cast doubt on its scope, arguing that it merely creates a financial burden for those who visit clinics for surgical abortions.
"I question why we are singling out one group of people for this type of treatment, if our stated concern is our actual stated concern," he said, as reported by the Memphis Flyer.
"All I’m going to say is this is one of the most offensive pieces of legislation I’ve heard this year — offensive for women who’ve actually had to bury children," Democratic Rep. London Lamar pointed out earlier this week. "What you are doing is further using your legislative powers to bring trauma on women who decide to make that choice. Yet, we’re not doing anything else in the legislature to support other women and their ability to have safe pregnancies"
Those in support of the bill in the state senate presented their school of thought.
"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," Republican Sen. Janice Bowling, a sponsor of the bill, told the Associated Press.
"It’s not fetal tissue, it’s dismembered children," stated Republican Rep. Robin Smith earlier this week.
Bowling also stated that the proposed legislation "does not limit or restrict an abortion, or access to an abortion, it only expects to guarantee an acceptable level of respect for an aborted child." She added that a violation of the law "would be a Class A misdemeanor."