Fighting The Fetal Assault Law

Healthcare Not Handcuffs was a state-wide and national effort led by Healthy and Free TNSisterReach, TAADAS, The National Advocates for Pregnant Women and other advocates to decriminalize pregnancy outcomes in Tennessee by pushing for the sunset of the state’s fetal assault law (the first of its kind in the nation) and to prevent other states from adopting similar laws.

In 2014, SB 1391 was enacted amending Tennessee’s fetal homicide law to include “prosecution of a woman for assault of a fetus based on her illegal use of narcotic drugs while pregnant and creating the affirmative defense that the woman completed an addiction recovery program.” In 2015, an attempt to expand the law to include meth, failed.

With the law set to expire on July 1, 2016, Sen. Reginald Tate, the sponsor of the original bill in 2014 filed an amendment (SB1629) to extend the law indefinitely. Rep. Terry Lynn Weaver was the House Sponsor (HB1660). In an attempt to gain enough support for the bill for it to pass, Rep. William Lamberth came back with an amended version of HB1660 that specified viability at 25 weeks (to address one lawmakers concern about abortion) and earmarking 10 million in funding for treatment (a bill for 30 million for treatment funding already in House Health Subcommittee failed). However, the bill was successfully defeated by a vote of 3-3.

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