Tougher regulations regarding the treatment of fetal remains in Tennessee go into effect today, July 1, 2016, thanks largely to the leadership of Governor Bill Haslam. The proposed policy was introduced by the Haslam administration as a priority last January in order "to strengthen accountability and transparency for surgery centers performing abortion."
Strongly supported by Tennessee Right to Life and passed overwhelmingly by members of the General Assembly, the new law strengthens existing policy by specifically prohibiting the offer or acceptance of payment for remains of an aborted child including any reimbursement for transfer, shipping or handling of fetal remains. The legislation was passed in April by overwhelming margins: 28-1 in the state Senate and 79-9 in the state House. Longtime pro-life leader Rep. Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) sponsored the House version while pro-life Senator Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield) ably carried the bill in the state Senate.
"Pro-life Tennesseans salute Governor Haslam, his administration and members of the General Assembly for doing everything possible to reduce the profit margin and motive within Tennessee's abortion industry," said Cathy Waterbury, Legislative Liaison for Tennessee Right to Life. "Tennessee's pro-life majority is committed to protecting human life and a key way to do so is to hold these abortion profiteers accountable."
The bill was brought in response to the release of undercover videos last summer in which high-ranking Planned Parenthood leaders were caught negotiating the sale of baby body parts. Governor Haslam ordered the Health Department to research and craft a series of reforms and regulations meant to create greater oversight of Tennessee's abortion facilities.
In addition to preventing the trafficking of human fetal remains, the Governor moved to establish new health department rules for inspection of facilities as well as strengthened record keeping requirements which must now be transmitted to the state. Significantly, the effort also includes streamlining and publicizing the process for filing complaints against abortion facilities and a "hotline" number featured prominently on the health department website allowing quick state response to any abuses or failure to comply with the new requirements.