Home / News / In Tennessee, a woman suffering a miscarriage within the first 8 weeks of pregnancy could face criminal prosecution
In Tennessee, a woman suffering a miscarriage within the first 8 weeks of pregnancy could face criminal prosecution

In Tennessee, a woman suffering a miscarriage within the first 8 weeks of pregnancy could face criminal prosecution

egg peopleOn April 19, Tennessee House of Representatives passed a bill 80-18, which allows criminal prosecution for harming an embryo.  This extends last year’s bill to the first eight weeks of pregnancy.

This bill allows for homicide and assault prosecutions for the death of embryos in the earliest stages of pregnancy.

Supporters say the bill clarifies last year’s bill, making it easier to prosecute people for harming an embryo.

Opponents state that it would be difficult to prove that harm came to the embryo, because many pregnancies naturally end in the first stage.  They also state the bill would bring major changes to the current state law.

House Bill 3517 would extend the law specifically to embryos “at any state of gestation in utero.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, most fertilized eggs die in the first trimester.

As a result, it will be difficult for prosecutors to prove that an embryo miscarried because of someone else’s action and not from natural causes, predicted Rep. Jeanne Richardson, D-Memphis.

“It is nature’s way, God’s way, of protecting our species,” she said. “I think your original bill may have been OK and we voted for that. I think extending that would be iffy.”

According to Knox News, the Tennessee Senate passed the bill Monday and it was sent to Governor Haslam.  The bill passed in the Senate 30-2.

Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mount Juliet, the sponsor, said legislators have since learned that, under the scientific definition of a fetus, the term only applies when eight weeks or more has passed since conception. Adding "embryo" covers from the moment of conception.

Democrats voted against the bill, stating that “embryo” makes it too broad.

Sen. Beverly Marrero, D-Memphis, told Beavers the measure would be construed to require a pregnancy test for "every woman who is shot."

"No, Sen. Marrero, I don't see it that way at all," replied Beavers.

"All we are trying to is punish that person for two counts of homicide or two counts of assault on that woman who has chosen to have her child," Beavers said.

The Senate debated the bill before Republicans passed it with a majority vote, with no word indicating Haslam’s stance on the bill.

RH Reality Check stated the bill allows prosecutors to charge someone, if a woman miscarriages or even has her period.

Embryo does refer to any stage of gestation before the 8th week. And that's the problem.  How exactly do you prove that a miscarriage happened as a result of a crime? Or that she wasn't just late? Or miscarrying on her own?

With so many potential issues to enforcing the legislation if it becomes law, it's hard to see this as anything but a bill meant to validate the idea of a fertilized egg as a person.

About Mriana

Mriana is a humanist and the author of "A Source of Misery", who grew up in the Church of God, Anderson Indiana. After she became an adult, she joined the Episcopal Church, but later left the Church and became a humanist. She has two grown sons and raises cats. Mriana raised her sons in the Episcopal Church, but in their teen years, they left the Church and she soon followed. One of her sons became a "Tao Buddhist" and the other a None, creating his own world view. She enjoys writing, reading, science, philosophy, psychology, and other subjects. Mriana is also an animal lover, who cares for their welfare as living beings, who are part of the earth. She is a huge Star Trek fan in a little body.
  • Sheldon

    This is crazy. I mean, this is really crazy. I have to agree with your final evaluation Mriana and I can't imagine what they'll come up with next.

    • I'm afraid of what they will come up with next- an egg is a person?  I can only hope the electoral college listens to the popular vote.

      • Sally

        They are already calling an egg a person in several states. Wonder who gets to decide how the egg votes? This is just insane, and I cannot believe a Republican WOMAN started this in TN. What they are going to see are a lot of dead women, because if someone miscarries naturally, they will be afraid to go to a hospital, and if there are complications, she will die at home. Nice work, TN. Take us back to the 1700's. What's next? Mandatory reporting of menstral cycles for all women age 10-90?

        • I agree, a lot of women will die, probably at home.  There is a problem with making mandatory menstrual cycles for all women until death- 1.  menopause, which all women go through.  2. one reason we have menopause, is that the older we get, the harder it is on our bodies to carry children, so nature stops this.

          These Republicans talked about death camps during the last election… they are the ones with the death camps, for everyone but male W.A.S.P.s and White male Catholic extremists.

      • It's sounds like another Republican plot to get more votes. Not only are they purposely changing laws in red states to disenfranchise certain voters but now since the mother will be eating for two people, she'll get to vote twice.

        • Oo!  Then that means double the votes for Democrats come next election, esp if the woman is preggers.

  • Deborah_B

    Or for crying out loud — that is ridiculous.  Perhaps they could put God on trial for those embryos that naturally abort.  What's next, mandatory Kotex checks? 

    The Tea Party Republicans are always talking about tort reform and less government, but with bills like these — in the unlikely event that they pass Constitutional scrutiny — ambulance chasing attorneys will get rich.  Imagine if you exercised too hard and miscarried … they could sue you for murder, the exercise equipment manufacturer for not having some kind of sensor or warning of possible miscarriage when using the machine, the gym where you were working out because they didn't stop you from murdering your embryo, your husband as an accessory to murder for allowing you to go to the gym in the first place, the restaurants you've been eating at for the last 6 weeks which didn't keep you naturally skinny, thus forcing you to endanger your embryo by working out, and a host of other things. 

    So far this year, our beloved state Republicans throughout the country have treated us to an interesting assortment of wisdom as to who we are as women — livestock, caterpillars, not worthy of receiving the same pay as men for the exact same job, pregnant during our periods and before we have sex (perhaps this is meant to be an 'honor,' sort of like the Virgin Mary), murderers of embroyos that might naturally abort, incapable of making our own medical decisions, sluts and whores if we need birth control pills to regulate our hormones — and on top of all of this, we are told that "the War on Women" is a myth so apparently, we are stupid moronic idiots for believing otherwise.

    That said, I agree with RH Reality Check that this sounds a lot like a personhood amendment.

    • lol  I knew you were going to say, "Oh for crying out loud!"  I agree, it is ridiculous.  So, um… God kills baby and mother gets charged with a crime.  That was my thought.

      Pregnant women workout at a gym?  What do I know?  I had bed rest for most of my pregnancies.  Whatever the case, I think it is a personhood amendment too.  It's all insane, but apparently women are suppose to get married and stay pregnant until after menopause.  I think the Republicans are going to find out, come next Nov., women are taking this laying down (no pun intended).

  • When will they outlaw IVF? Countless embryos die in that procedure every day. These psychos do not truly believe that an embryo is the same as a baby. If they did, they'd be picketing and/or bombing fertility clinics as well. This isn't about human babies. It's not even about abortion overall. This is about the continued right wing effort to segregate women into lower class citizens. This is the christian Taliban come to America. What next?  Will a little girl have to register when she starts her period? If I get kicked in the nuts can the perpetrator be charged with assault on two people? Probably not because its a war on women and I'm a man.

    • SSC Guru

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      check result here

  • Pingback: Miscarriage Against the Law? | Mom At Last()

  • This year’s TN legislative session is an embarrassing
    three-ring circus gaining our state nothing but negative media attention.  Our lawmakers should focus on improving the
    state economy and education instead of intruding on civil liberties and
    violating students’ rights, gay rights, women’s rights, immigrants’ rights and
    even monkey rights!  Read about how these
    elected officials are turning our back yard into a testing ground for the most
    extreme Right-Wing agendas in the entire country at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2012/04/living-stereotype-and-seeing-red-in.html

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  • This is what happens when you start mixing church and state.  Intolerance and persecution are the sure result historically and it will be no different now.

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