So, yes, Campfield has once again submitted his “Issue Death Certificates for Abortions” legislation.
Let’s recap why this is a terrible idea.
1. The State already keeps records on the abortions performed in Tennessee. We don’t need another piece of llegislation to accomplish something we already do. 39-15-203 says “A physician performing an abortion shall keep a record of each operation and shall make a report to the commissioner of health with respect thereto at the time and in the form as the commissioner may reasonably prescribe. Each record and report shall be confidential in nature and shall be inaccessible to the public.”
2. A death certificate is public record. There is no provision in the Tennessee code to make parts of a death certificate unavailable to the public. So, if Campfield wants to issue real, actual death certificates for aborted fetuses, he can’t say “Oh, but no one will see those records and the information in them” or “I’m only going to allow researchers to have access to the information” because that is against the law. Those are public records.
3. Because they’re public records, anyone who wants to could go through and compile a list of women who’ve had abortions and use that list for whatever nefarious purposes they like will be able to.
4. Does Campfield support issuing death certificates for miscarriages? If a 9-week old fetus who is aborted gets a death certificate, why wouldn’t a 9-week old fetus who is miscarried? Okay, you say, fine, we issue death certificates for miscarried fetuses, after all, they’re people, too. But what about the mother who doesn’t even know she’s pregnant? She thinks she’s just having a heavy period? How will we determine when an early miscarriage is happening in order to know we need to issue death certificates? Will everything that comes out of your vagina when you menstruate have to be turned over to the State?
5. An abortion is a medical procedure. Has Campfield considered whether this violates HIPAA statutes? What right does he have to reveal to anyone a medical procedure that you’ve had?
6. There is no way for this law to not eventually drag women who miscarry into it. There’s just not. The law does not allow for two classes of people. You can’t say some dead fetuses are people for the purposes of issuing them death certificates and some dead fetuses are not and their loss is just a private tragedy. It just doesn’t work that way. If you know any woman who’s been through a miscarriage, you know how terrible that can be for a woman. Are we really ready to head down a path that is guaranteed to increase their suffering?
7. By law, a child’s father’s name goes on its death certificate. Right now, paternity is established by the mother naming someone and it being put on the birth certificate. At the moment, there is also pending legislation that would require a DNA test before a man can go on a birth certificate. Will such a test be issued before a man can go on the death certificate?
8. According to Tennessee law, an abortion is “administration to any woman pregnant with child, whether the child be quick or not, of any medicine, drug, or substance whatever, or the use or employment of any instrument, or other means whatever, with the intent to destroy the child, thereby destroying the child before the child’s birth.” That means, taking mifepristone to end a pregnancy would result in a situation in which a death certificate would be issued. And yet, also according to Tennessee law, a death certificate can only be issued when a person is legally dead and, under Tennessee law, you are legally dead when you have sustained either “Irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions; or Irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem”
And yet, in cases when a woman takes mifepristone, she’s often inducing an abortion before there are developed circulatory and respiratory functions or a brain. So, how can the State issue death certificates to people who don’t meet the legal definition of dead?
The bottom line is that the state already collects information on the abortions performed in the state and this piece of shit legislation is just designed to make it easy for folks to make a database of women who’ve had abortions. Our only salvation as a state is that it’s so poorly thought out that, even if it does pass, it’ll be tied up in court forever.
But you can bet I’ll be waiting to see if Campfield has the balls to vote to make gun records private at the same time he’s trying to make medical records public.