Tennessee House Passes Bill Requiring Burial or Cremation for Aborted Babies

Under the measure, pregnant women would have the right to choose either form of burial as well as select the location, but may choose not to exercise that right.

A statue of an angel marking the grave of a baby.
A statue of an angel marking the grave of a baby. (photo: Jen Theodore / Unsplash)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee House of Representatives advanced a bill this week that would require medical providers to bury or cremate the bodies of aborted babies.

The bill passed through the House on Monday. It is scheduled for a vote at the state’s Senate on Wednesday. 

Lawmakers and pro-life supporters say the bill would help preserve human dignity.

“It’s not fetal tissue, it’s dismembered children,” said Rep. Robin Smith, according to AP News. 

If passed, HB 1181 would require medical providers to either bury or cremate the remains of a baby who has been aborted. According to the Memphis Flyer, the bill’s House sponsor Rep. Tim Rudd, R, stated that the average burial will cost about $150 and cremation services will cost $350. 

Under the measure, pregnant women would have the right to choose either form of burial as well as select the location, but may choose not to exercise that right. If a woman requests an alternative burial method, she would be required to cover the costs herself. 

Rudd said that while no state funds have been set aside for these costs, many funeral homes and charities have offered to cover these services free of charge. 

Rep. London Lamar, D, who opposes the bill, called it “one of the most offensive pieces of legislation I’ve heard this year,” according to the Memphis Flyer

“You are forcing women who have potentially been raped and forcing them to bury or cremate that,” Lamar said.

However, Rudd argued that the bill does “not restrict abortion or have anything to do with abortion; this is post-abortion,” the Memphis Flyer reported.

“The way this is now handled — with the [remains] either thrown in the trash or flushed in the toilet — it is appalling,” said Rudd. “Pets and farms animals are treated with more dignity [in state law] but there’s nothing about the dignity of an unborn child.”

The Tennessee Right to Life group has expressed support for the measure. 

“Pro-abortion activists will oppose this legislation on the false pretense that it creates an obstacle for women, but in fact, their opposition comes from the refusal to acknowledge the humanity of the unborn child and to thereby treat their bodies with dignity and respect,” the group said in a statement. 

In 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld part of a similar Indiana law requiring aborted babies to be cremated or buried. 

In an unsigned three-page opinion, the Supreme Court cited a previous decision that states have a “legitimate interest in proper disposal of fetal remains.”

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