Friday, March 24, 2006

Almost Makes Sense: More TN Abortion Legislation

The Tennessee State Senate voted yesterday (29-0) to approve SB2993, which amends the TN Code (Title 39, Chapter 15, Part 2) to require that any person who performs an abortion on a minor less than 13 years of age to preserve a fetal tissue sample which must then be submitted to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation or a lab designated by the TBI, along with the complete name and address of the minor obtaining the abortion and the same information for a parent or legal guardian. The stated intent for this bill is to preserve evidence (fetal tissue) that can be used in prosecuting rapes.

That seems rather reasonable, given that a 13-year-old cannot legally consent to sex. What is not clear is what issues this raises about ownership of the fetal tissue, what privacy rights apply when the information is taken out of the medical setting and handed over to the TBI, and why this bill wasn't extended to cover all minors. According to the TN Code [39-13-506], statutory rape is defined as "sexual penetration of a victim by the defendant or of the defendant by the victim when the victim is at least thirteen (13) but less than eighteen (18) years of age and the defendant is at least four (4) years older than the victim." This would seem to prove that we consider 13-17 year olds to also be incapable of legally consenting to sex, and they can certainly also be raped in the non-statutory sense. If there is a genuine interest in prosecuting individuals who rape minors, why would the bill not cover those in the 13-17 age range? Why would it not also protect adult women who are raped and seek abortion?

The TN House has not yet voted on the bill - Bill status information
(found via the Kaiser network)

Technorati Tags: ; ; ;
MeSH Tags: Abortion, Induced/legislation and jurisprudence; Rape/legislation and jurisprudence


Blogger Kat Coble said...

Uh, okay. Personally, I'm not a big fan of anything that requires mandatory submission of tissue and/or medical records to law enforcement. As well intentioned as it may seem, it's a gateway to anti-privacy law that I'd rather not see opened, myself.

3:17 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

I know. The whole thing makes me uncomfortable. I can see that, okay, maybe after a rape you could use that tissue to confirm the perpetrator's identity. The mandatory portion bothers me, the privacy issue bothers me, and the fact that it's only "for the children" (just some of the children) bothers me. If it's needed to prosecute rapes, it should be needed for all women. If that's not true, then it's probably not needed at all. Why not let women choose whether to submit that evidence? It just really creeps me out, for lack of a more eloquent explanation. And it passed the Senate 29-nothing.

3:36 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

You know, they're not requiring blood/DNA samples from any children who are born of rape, either. It makes less and less sense all the time.

4:03 PM  

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