House approves Fetal Remains Act

Friday, April 15, 2016, Vol. 40, No. 16

NASHVILLE (AP) - Legislation that would put new restrictions on the transfer of fetal remains is close to getting to the governor.

The House on Thursday passed the Fetal Remains Act. The Senate already passed the measure but would have to approve a minor change before sending the bill to the governor.

Gov. Bill Haslam pushed for the legislation after the release of undercover videos filmed by anti-abortion activists that alleged that Planned Parenthood was illegally selling fetal tissue. A Texas grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing and instead indicted two videographers on criminal charges.

The sale of fetal remains is illegal in Tennessee.

The proposal would make it a felony for any person or organization to accept reimbursement of any costs associated with the "preparation, preservation, transfer, shipping, or handling of an aborted fetus or fetal remains." It would also force surgical abortion providers to repo rt to the state how they dispose of the remains and to give the names and addresses of any third party that might receive them. Abortion clinics would also have to report serious complications that result from the procedure.

"The fact is that Tennessee has never done anything with fetal remains," Rep. Sherry Jones, a Democrat from Nashville, said before the vote. "That hasn't been legal ever, and the legislation that we've been passing here today is not really necessary, but if y'all want it, it's OK."

But another lawmaker disagreed during debate on the House floor. The legislation is necessary to take a stand to show that "we do not condone, we do not allow the trafficking and sale for profit of dead baby parts," Matthew Hill, a Republican from Jonesborough, said. "It does not matter if it is or is not going on," Hill said.

The Senate will have to approve an amendment that requires lawmakers to get a copy of any rules the state Department of Health have to create if the measure becomes law.