Gov. Bill Haslam has told state legislators that — through administrative actions already taken and a bill that will be submitted to the General Assembly in January — he intends to “prevent the abhorrent activities discussed in the Planned Parenthood videos from occurring in Tennessee.”
The governor’s letter, dated Wednesday, comes three months after a legislative hearing inspired the videos depicting Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue, which were circulated by anti-abortion activities and triggered congressional investigations in Washington.
At the August Joint Government Operations Committee hearing, Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner acknowledged that, while it’s against state law to sell fetal tissues, there were no rules in place requiring abortion providers to report on disposal methods used in each case. Some legislators said that could make it easy for providers to dodge the law. Prior to the hearing, Haslam had sent lawmakers a letter outlining existing law and state dealings with Planned Parenthood.
Haslam’s letter, depicted by administration officials as a follow-up to his Aug. 12 letter prior to the hearing, says the Department of Health has since strengthened record-keeping rules to require that the state be sent a report on disposal of abortion remains in each case.
Further, the governor wrote that the department has recently conducted unannounced inspections of Tennessee’s four largest abortion providers and is “actively working to ensure” they are in compliance with all laws and regulations. The department has also set up a “hotline” telephone number and provided a location on its website where individuals can file a complaint against abortion providers.
“The administrative actions that have been taken were the result of a comprehensive review of abortion regulations and inspection requirements related to the disposition of an aborted fetus. As a result of that review, I will also be proposing legislation in January to strengthen accountability and transparency for surgery centers performing abortions,” the letter says.
“We anticipate this legislation including such measures as enhanced inspection procedures, further improved record keeping related to the disposition of fetal remains and a prohibition on reimbursement of any costs associated with the transport of an aborted fetus,” the letter says.
Note: Text of the governor’s letter is available by clicking on this link: FollowUpLetter