Tennessee legislature passes bill requiring cremation or burial after abortion

Tennessee legislature passes bill requiring cremation or burial after abortion
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Tennessee’s GOP-controlled Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would require medical providers to bury or cremate fetal remains after abortions, sending the legislation to the governor's desk.

State senators cleared the measure in a 27-6 vote. The House passed the bill on Monday in a 69-22 vote.

In addition to the requirements for medical providers, the legislation says the pregnant woman can determine the method and location for disposing of the fetal remains.

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The Associated Press reported that the bill has drawn criticism from Tennessee Democrats and reproductive rights advocates, who argue that the measure would stigmatize a legal procedure.

"This is one of the most offensive pieces of legislation I’ve heard this year,” state Rep. London Lamar (D) told the AP. “This is not a pro-life piece of legislation. What you are doing is further using your legislative powers to bring trauma on women who make that choice.” 

“To have additional trauma related to being required to have this type of service is just cruel,” Senate Democratic Caucus Chairwoman Raumesh Akbari told the newswire. “I wish that instead of that, we would conform to what hospitals are already doing.”

Supporters of the bill argues it will protect human dignity.

“It’s not fetal tissue, it’s dismembered children,” said state Rep. Robin Smith (R).

The legislation now awaits action from Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R), a staunch abortion opponent who signed one of the strictest state abortion laws last year. It was later blocked after a legal challenge.

Lee has not indicated whether he'll sign the new legislation, according to the AP.