As of Thursday, Tennessee will now require the remains of certain aborted children to be either buried or cremated. The Unborn Child Dignity Act, passed by the Tennessee legislature in April, applies to those children aborted in ambulatory surgical treatment centers, private offices, or other in-person facilities outlined in Tennessee Code. The new law wouldn’t extend to those children aborted through at-home procedures like abortifacient drugs taken orally.

Under the law, the mother of the aborted child will have the right to determine how and where the child is buried. If the woman is under 18 years of age, then she must obtain parental consent unless a court says otherwise. The mother may also waive her right to determine the child’s final disposition. Documentation, arrangement, and costs of the burial or cremation will be the responsibility of the abortion facility.

Supreme Court (SCOTUS) precedent has recognized the validity of laws requiring burial or cremation of aborted children. In 2019, SCOTUS upheld a similar Indiana law. In addition to Tennessee and Indiana, other states that require certain disposals of fetal remains are Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Louisiana, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Last year, Tennessee experienced nearly 11,000 abortions – approximately 30 a day. State Senator Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma), the primary sponsor of the legislation, explained that the need for this law arose due to abortion facilities’ current disposal practices.

“While human fetal remains can be disposed of humanely, they are often and more than often not. They are disposed of with medical waste or dumped in landfills in the trash, and there’s even reports that some are put into disposals,” asserted Bowling.

Federal court is considering another Tennessee law relative to abortion. An abortion center is challenging Tennessee’s mandatory 48-hour waiting period for abortion in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The last action on the case, Bristol Regional Women’s Center v. Herbert Slatery III, et al., occurred earlier this month through an en banc session.

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Corinne Murdock is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and the Star News Network. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to