NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — With Tennessee’s abortion ban officially going into effect Tuesday, the ban will not only impact those looking to get an abortion, but also those going through the in vitro fertilization (IVF) process.
Eight years ago Jackie Corino’s daughter was born.
“I developed a life-threatening condition and had to have an emergency C-section,” she said. “After the fact, it was basically determined that me carrying subsequent pregnancies would be a really big risk to my health.”
But after years of talks, Corino and her husband decided they wanted to continue expanding their family.
“Three years ago, we decided to kind of jump into the whole world of IVF and look at potential surrogacy,” she said.
Last Friday the Supreme Court decided to overturn Roe V. Wade, bringing other concerns to Corino.
“When legislation comes out like this, every word matters, and the lack thereof words matter as well,” she said.
Corino began researching Tennessee laws and discovered House Bill 2314.
Introduced by Rep. Bruce Griffey and Sen. Mark Pody, the bill seeks to expand the offenses of child abuse, neglect, and endangerment to an unborn child. Part of the bill defines an unborn child as “an individual living member of the species, homo sapiens, throughout the entire embryonic and fetal stages of the unborn child from fertilization to full gestation and childbirth.”
The language could also include those going through IVF.
“It’s an intrusion into this most intimate decision,” Julie Tate-Keith said.
Tate-Keith has been practicing law focused on assisted reproductive technology for over 30 years and says this proposed bill could impact many Tennessee families going through IVF or looking to get a surrogate.
“If that bill comes back up and passes, then a patient’s right to decide this embryo cannot become a baby, that will no longer be their right,” she said.
Tate-Keith believes it also brings real concerns about who is at fault when it comes to what happens to embryos.
“If the parents decide, ‘No, that embryo has significant genetic defects and we’re going to discard it,’ they could face criminal charges,” she said.
That’s something that also brings concerns to Corino.
“Knowing that at some point my husband and I could be faced with…’We have extra embryos what do we do,’ and then knowing that the state of Tennessee could potentially pass this, where either the physician or my husband and I could be held with criminal charges of child abuse and neglect and endangerment, is just pretty mind-blowing,” she said.
As of late March, no action has been taken with this bill, but Corino is worried about what could happen next here in Tennessee.
“I really hope that the people who are reviewing that take a step back and really look and understand the situation, and look at the IVF community and say, ‘We need to clarify language here,'” she said.
News 2 reached out to Rep. Griffey to see if he could clarify things with his proposed bill.
He declined to comment citing he is now a circuit court judge-elect, so he is limited on addressing issues that could be litigated before him as well as commenting on the decisions of other courts.