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Tennessee passes bill criminalising miscarriage

2 comments Draper
WVoN co-editor

Lawmakers in the state of Tennessee this week passed a bill proposing to criminalise harming embryos.

The state senate voted almost unanimously in favour of the bill, which defines embryos as possible victims of criminal assault and murder.

The bill amends a law passed last year which granted legal protection to “viable” foetuses. The new bill extends this protection to unborn humans “at any state of gestation in utero”.

According to lawmakers, last year’s law was intended to cover foetuses at all stages of pregnancy.

However, the amendment was necessary because they had not realised that the term foetus is only used from the eighth week of pregnancy onwards. Before this, unborn humans are known as embryos.

Proponents of the bill claim that it will protect women, as it would allow prosecutors to add a second criminal charge when a pregnant woman and her embryo are harmed.

However, critics protest that it is too vague, and could be interpreted as criminalising any action which leads to miscarriage. This could potentially result in women who have suffered miscarriages being prosecuted for harming their embryos.

Concerns have also been raised over how the law could be implemented. It may be difficult to prove that an embryo has been harmed, since many pregnancies fail naturally during the embryonic stage.

The bill is the latest chapter in the debate over personhood. Although its aim is ostensibly to protect pregnant women, it establishes in law the principle of legal protection for unborn humans, which sets the groundwork for anti-abortion legislation.

  1. “to protect pregnant women”. uhuh. Im sure they didnt have aaaaany idea it could be used in aaaaaany other way.

  2. 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

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