Republicans In Tennessee Try To Criminalize Miscarriages

The abortion wars aren’t ending anytime soon in Tennessee where last week the state House of Representatives approved a bill allowing homicide and assault prosecutions in the death of embryos in the earliest stages of development.

As Robin Marty reports, the bill exposes women for possible prosecution if she miscarries or even has a period.

Tennessee law has long allowed prosecutors to bring two charges when a person kills or assaults a pregnant woman. The second charge of harming a fetus can be brought only as a second charge to harming the pregnant woman as well. The law further limited prosecutions to harming a “viable fetus” until last year when the law was amended to apply to any fetus.

The new bill would change all that.

To begin with the new law would embrace the idea that embryos can be crime victims, implicitly accepting as a matter of law the idea of embryonic personhood. It also disregards the established science that roughly half of all fertilized eggs die before reaching full term.

For law enforcement to properly enforce the law should it pass it would require investigation of each miscarriage to determine if a prosecution is warranted. Extend this logic and it effectively changes the law’s presumption of innocent for women in every case of a pregnancy loss.

But of course, the war on women is all a fiction, right?

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Photo from lawmurray via flickr.


Sue H.
.5 years ago

what morons

Jewelz A.
Jewelz A.5 years ago


Stanley Rampersad
Stanley Balgobin5 years ago

GOP ideology miscarriage is a felony murder crime which carries life without parole sentence.

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener5 years ago

Unethical idiots....

Maitreya L5 years ago

Katja Said: "The reason many people (myself included) are against this bill is because it is so easy to then attempt to use it to make abortion illegal,"

Indeed, if they just wanted harsher sentences for violence against pregnant women, they could have just written a bill adding harsher sentences. "Embryonic personhood" leading to future attacks on womens reproductive rights seems like a reasonable concern to me. Some of the worst laws are created incrementally over many years. Just look at the history of "corporate personhood".

Katja S.
Katja S5 years ago

Darryl -
I did read the Bill. Here it states:
".....that the victim of an assaultive offense or a homicide includes a human embryo or fetus at any stage of gestation in utero, when any such term refers to the victim of any act made criminal by the provisions governing such offenses, and when at the time of the criminal act the victim was pregnant."

For a fetus / embryo to be considered a "victim" (as in this bill), it has to be considered a person. In my honest opinion, you cannot say that an offender is guilty of murdering two people if he kills a pregnant woman (in this case a fetus is being considered a "person"), and then go on to say a woman who aborts a pregnancy is NOT killing a person. Surely a fetus is either a person, or it isn't.

The reason many people (myself included) are against this bill is because it is so easy to then attempt to use it to make abortion illegal, or to use it to investigate and potentially criminalise women who have suffered a miscarriage.

Katja S.
Katja S5 years ago

Darryl - Actually I HAVE read various other articles on the same topic, on a number of different websites, before you accuse me of not having made an effort to read up on the issue.

Katja S.
Katja S5 years ago

Debbie - I second your proposed "stop men masturbating" motion! If this bill to deny women abortions or investigate them for miscarrriage passes, I think that women should all deny their husbands / partners / boyfriends sex for the duration of the bill's existence. Many of the women I know tend to be able to go longer than their men without sex, and seeing as it's our liberty at stake, we'll see who cracks first! I have my own suggested motion - if abortion is criminalised we should pass a bill that legally requires men to be sterilised or remain celibate so that they never give a woman a reason to need one.

A N M.
anne M5 years ago

Darryll, please spare me and don't fill up my mailbox with your silly comments. No, I'm not a blind liberal who believes just anything. I also don't give a hang about your religious hangups. I'm not a christian and couldn't care less about your silly
American christian cults. Even if I were a christian, I wouldn't adhere to one of these blasphemous American sects. Get over yourself already and stay out of my mailbox. Thank you

David L.
David L5 years ago

BY DEFINITION a miscarriage isn't an abortion...

How long could a badly aimed and poorly written law like this expect to stand before being overridden by Federal laws pertaining to human rights and civil rights..

Involve the police in every case of miscarriage and the state could be leaving themselves open to some big assault charges and compensation payouts at some future date ~ would the police themselves be willing to tempt that ?