Tony Gonzalez | WPLN News

The Tennessee House has approved a measure that would require tissue from abortions to be cremated or buried.

If the measure passes the state Senate, backers say Tennessee would be the 12th state to require mortuary services after an abortion.

Backers describe House Bill 1181/Senate Bill 828 as an attempt to give more dignity to aborted remains. In committee hearings, and before a 69-22 vote on the House floor Monday night, they’ve given often graphic descriptions of fetal remains being thrown out.

State Rep. Robin Smith, R-Hixson, says she came across fetal remains in the morgue while working as a hospital nurse.

“It’s not fetal tissue,” she said. “It’s dismembered children. … We’re going to treat them as they are — the created human that is pre-born.”

Updated April 14, 2021 at 4:26 PM ET

The Biden administration is moving to reverse a Trump-era family planning policy that critics describe as a domestic "gag rule" for reproductive healthcare providers.

Kyeland Jackson

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s request to defend Kentucky’s ban on a common abortion procedure, which was blocked by lower courts.

Former Republican Gov. Matt Bevin signed the state’s ban on dilation and evacuation abortions into law in 2018, but a federal court struck it down the following year, saying it would have created a “substantial obstacle” for Kentuckians seeking the procedure.

An appeals court upheld that ruling in 2020, but Cameron has sought to intervene in the case.

Ryland Barton

Gov. Andy Beshear has allowed the so-called “born alive” abortion bill to become law without his signature.

Senate Bill 9 will require doctors to provide life-saving care if a baby survives an abortion attempt, making it a felony if doctors refuse to.

Such situations are exceedingly rare and supporters haven’t documented any cases in Kentucky.

Kentucky law dictates that bills become law if a governor doesn’t sign or veto them within ten days of passage from the legislature.

During an interview Friday morning, Beshear said that he’s not endorsing the bill and emphasized that it seeks to prevent “something that never happens.”

Ryland Barton


The Kentucky legislature passed several bills on to Gov. Andy Beshear’s desk on Saturday, including measures tweaking the governor’s powers during the coronavirus pandemic and limiting abortions.

The rare weekend session capped off the first week of this year’s General Assembly, where Republican leaders rushed bills through the lawmaking process, waiving several rules that normally allow the public to review and comment.

Meanwhile armed protesters gathered outside the state Capitol, waving flags in support of President Donald Trump, and decrying Beshear’s restrictions during the pandemic.

In a statement on Twitter, Gov. Andy Beshear criticized the protest.

Blake Farmer | WPLN

Tennessee women’s rights groups are challenging a state law they say will interfere with the decision-making process for pregnant people undergoing drug-induced abortions.

A court hearing on the issue began at the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee on Tuesday afternoon. The days-long trial will determine the law’s constitutionality.

The source of controversy is the abortion reversal theory. It promotes the idea that individuals can possibly undo the effects of the initial pill used to terminate pregnancies.

Abortion opponents were among those most excited by the addition of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court in October. And they had good reason to be.

As a law professor and circuit court judge, Barrett made it clear she is no fan of abortion rights. She is considered likely to vote not only to uphold restrictions on the procedure, but also, possibly, even to overturn the existing national right to abortion under the Supreme Court's landmark rulings in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey.

Kate Howard

Attorney General Daniel Cameron is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate a Kentucky law that sought to ban a common abortion method. A lower court struck down the measure in 2019.

House Bill 454 would have banned the dilation and evacuation abortion procedure, the most common method used after the 11th week of pregnancy.

Gov. Matt Bevin signed the bill into law in 2018, but it never went into effect after the American Civil Liberties Union and EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville sued to block it.

In a statement, Cameron wrote that the bill shows Kentucky’s “profound respect for the dignity of human life.

Courtesy Gov. Bill Lee / Facebook

Tennessee’s newest restriction on abortions saw two major — and opposing — developments Monday.

Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill that would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected.

“With the signature of this bill,” Lee said during the Facebook Live event, with a blue Sharpie in hand, “Tennessee is one of the most pro-life states in America.”

However, less than an hour later, a federal judge blocked the law from going into effect, citing the law placed “undue burden” on people seeking pre-viability abortions. The measure aims to prohibit abortions starting at around six weeks. That’s before most people know they’re pregnant, effectively blocking most abortions.

Creative Commons

A U.S. Supreme Court decision is being described as a “small victory” for abortion rights supporters in Tennessee, and it’s causing a leading anti-abortion group to call for a reset on opponents’ strategy.

The court ruled Monday that doctors do not have admitting privileges at a local hospital, striking down a Louisiana law. Tennessee has had a similar measure on the books since 2012, but it hasn’t been enforced for the past four years, when the Supreme Court struck down the same law in Texas.

Ashley Coffield, the president of Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi, told WPLN News the decision shows the highest court won’t support extreme measures to ban abortion.

Sergio Martinez-Beltran | WPLN

In a late-night, last-minute vote, the Tennessee Senate passed what would become one of the most restrictive anti-abortion bills in the country.

The measure (SB2196/HB2263) had been championed by Gov. Bill Lee, although he said it was not a priority once the coronavirus pandemic struck in the state.

The measure would ban abortions after fetal cardiac activity has been detected — which happens about six weeks in the pregnancy.

The House voted on the measure Thursday morning, even as Republican leaders in the Senate were saying they would not pick it up because it was not related to the budget or the pandemic.

U.S. Courts

A federal appeals court has upheld a ruling that overturned Kentucky’s ban on a common abortion procedure called dilation and evacuation, saying it would impose a burden on women seeking abortions.

Kentucky’s Republican-led state legislature passed the ban in 2018, which was signed into law by then-Gov. Matt Bevin.

EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville, at the time the state’s only abortion provider, sued over the law, saying it would all but eliminate abortions after the 13th week of pregnancy — the time frame when dilation and evacuation procedure is most commonly used.

Jess Clark

Despite social distancing orders from the governor and public health officials, protesters are continuing to gather outside a Louisville abortion clinic. On Saturday, about two dozen anti-abortion protesters lined the sidewalk outside EMW Surgical Center in downtown Louisville, one of Kentucky’s two remaining abortion clinics.

Very few were wearing masks or maintaining the six feet of distance the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says helps prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

While one protester who declined to be identified shouted at women through a bullhorn, Daniel Nolan stood by quietly with a Bible. A member of Sovereign King Church of Southern Indiana, he said he comes here often for these Saturday protests.

Ryland Barton

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear has vetoed the so-called “born alive” abortion bill, saying that doctors are already required to give life-saving medical care to infants that survive abortions.

The bill, which passed in the final hours of this year’s legislative session, also would have given Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron power to regulate abortions in the state and shut down providers during the coronavirus pandemic.

During his daily press conference on Friday, Beshear said that supporters of the bill sought to create divisions during the coronavirus pandemic.

J. Tyler Franklin

In the waning hours of the legislative session, Kentucky lawmakers voted to give Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron power to enforce abortion regulations and shut down providers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Anti-abortion activists have criticized Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear for not shutting down the state’s two abortion providers under his ban on elective procedures during the pandemic.

Sen. Whitney Westerfield, a Republican from Crofton, called Beshear, a “hypocrite.”