Tennessee lawmakers are debating a measure that would require the remains of fetuses to be buried or cremated after abortions.
A House subcommittee gave initial approval to House Bill 1181/Senate Bill 828 on Tuesday. It would apply to all surgical abortions, and would require abortion providers or people receiving abortions to pay the cost of mortuary services. Hospitals have been excluded from the measure.
The measure’s sponsor, state Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, said aborted remains should get the same treatment as children, adults and pets.
“I want that same level of dignity applied to a child,” says Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro.
Prior to the vote, lawmakers heard testimony from former abortion providers who described the remains of aborted fetuses in detail. They said the lack of mortuary services is dehumanizing.
But opponents of the measure say aborted tissue should be treated no differently than pregnancies that end in miscarriage, the remains of which are identical. They say the decision to exclude hospitals shows that the purpose is to add yet another cost to abortion services.
Ebony Wiggins, a Nashville woman who says she received an abortion at age 22, argues it would also add to the emotional toll of people who get abortions.
“I guess we would have to reach out to a funeral home [or] a funeral service and delegate how this is going to happen,” she says. “And I feel like that, in a way, is being insensitive to the people who actually are mourning.”