Won’t You Help Campfield Get His List of Sinners?

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.

11 thoughts on “Won’t You Help Campfield Get His List of Sinners?

  1. Pingback: Newscoma » Blog Archive » Friday The 13th

  2. Rachel’s post specificly quotes the bill as saying:

    Personal information on a death certificate for each induced termination of pregnancy shall not be disclosed to any person by the department

    That means it’s not public record. Because the bill explicitly says it’s not. The loophole for ‘researchers’ is pretty large, but that doesn’t make it public record.

  3. W., how are they going to work that? Have a special department just for death certificates for aborted fetuses? Death certificates are public records and nothing in this bill amends that part of the state code. Clearly, when the law seems to contradict itself, that’s when the lawsuits start flying, but I can bet that the courts are not going to want to have two types of death certificates.

    More troubling–and I can’t decide if it’s on purpose or if Campfield’s just an idiot–is this notion of “personal information.” Personal to whom? When a death certificate is issued about/to a person usually, the personal information is the information about that person–his age, physical description, health, cause of death, etc.

    Your mom’s name is not *your* personal information–that’s your mom’s.

    So, would it be redacted on your death certificate, even if your personal information was?

    I think that would be open for legal debate (read: lawsuits).

    The problem is that he wants to create a bunch of special cases, with the weight of the non-special cases behind it. So, he knows a death certificate carries a lot of cultural weight. Only a living thing with personhood gets a death certificate. So, issuing death certificates for fetuses is a way of establishing legal personhood for them. But he also doesn’t quite want real death certificates. He wants them issued only in this special case–if the fetus was aborted–and he doesn’t really want them to be public record–unlike read death certificates.

    But, I think, he really, really wants to punish women.

  4. Right, W – it’s not official public record, except for the giant research loophole. It’s just enough government collection of data to be intimidating to women, though, which I suspect is part of Campfield’s intent.

  5. And B, I think you’re right to be concerned about how these specifically get segregated into a more private repository. I hope it won’t be an issue because, as the husband said last night, “It’s too bizarre and stupid to pass.”

    There’s also a provision in state law about vital records that after 100 years, they’re not so private anymore.

  6. Pingback: The “Death Certificates for Abortion” Bill is Back in Tennessee « Women’s Health News

  7. How does that bill not amend it the state code? It explicitly says personal information from the certificate is not to be released? It could be written a little tigther, but it still says the info isn’t to be released. If my mom’s name isn’t personal information, then what is it? Hell, her name probably qualifies more as personal info for me than it does for her because she has to actually give it to people.

    Why would parental information even need to be on a death certificiate? Are you sure it is on the standard death cert? Does anything in the bill actually say the mother’s name has to be submitted?

  8. Looks like garden variety GOP pandering to me. I don’t think he cares whether or not it passes; he’s more interested in putting on a wingnut puppet show for his base. To borrow from Rachel’s husband, “bizarre and stupid” describes Campfield’s estimation of his constituents’ political thought patterns.

    It’s nothing new, B. You haven’t heard bizarre and stupid until you’ve heard my highly paid, unionized, taxpayer-funded, public employee colleagues complaining about liberals and liberal policies. Strictly politically speaking, we are a nation of psychotic toddlers.

  9. W., if a fetus is a child under the law, then the parents’ names go on the death certificate, since, by law, parents’ names are recorded on the death certificates of children.

    Just sit back and let the stupidity wash over you. It’s not a well-thought out bill. There is no sense to be made. It doesn’t amend the state code about redacting personal information on death certificates because it doesn’t amend the state code. If it did, it would say “replace this language in this code dealing with death certificates with this language.” And it doesn’t. It’s only amending the language in the part of the code dealing with abortions. It’s doing nothing about amending the language in the part of the code dealing with death certificates.

  10. It doesn’t amend the state code about redacting personal information on death certificates because it doesn’t amend the state code.

    I think that’s important. The law is not amended simply because another law is passed that contradicts the first (with the exception of a federal law over a state law). When you introduce a new law that contradicts an old law without changing the old law, you create a legal paradox that, as you note, will invariably be battled out in court at some future date.

  11. Here’s the best part, IMO. How does one issue a death certificate for someone who has never received a birth certificate?

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