Tennessee Passes Embryo Bill

The Tennessee State Senate passed a bill on Monday night that will apply the state’s murder and assault laws to embryos.  In a 28-2 vote, the State Senate decided that when a pregnant woman is harmed, prosecutors should be able to bring murder and assault charges on behalf of a second victim, the embryo.

Opponents of the bill say that although the bill only refers to criminal statutes, it is a starting point for anti-abortion legislation in the state.  State representative Jeanne Richardson said, “It will be difficult for prosecutors to prove that an embryo miscarried because of someone else’s action and not from natural causes.”  Another state representative, Johnnie Turner, said that the bill provides “veiled support” for future anti-abortion legislation.

Tennessee passed a law last year that gives prosecutors the right to bring charges for crimes against any fetus.  For many years prior to this law, the state law applied only to a “viable fetus,” defined as at least 32 weeks after conception.

The Tennessean, 4/24/12; Think Progress 4/20/12

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