AP

AG: Disposing embryos outside uterus not against Tenn. law

Nov 4, 2022, 12:30 AM | Updated: 12:43 pm

FILE - In this Aug. 12, 2019 file photo, people wait for a Senate hearing to begin to discuss a fet...

FILE - In this Aug. 12, 2019 file photo, people wait for a Senate hearing to begin to discuss a fetal heartbeat abortion ban, or possibly something more restrictive in Nashville, Tenn. Tennessee's strict abortion ban does not apply to the disposal of fertilized human embryos that haven't been transferred to a uterus, according to a recent state attorney general opinion. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee’s strict abortion ban does not apply to the disposal of fertilized human embryos that haven’t been transferred to a uterus, according to a recent state attorney general opinion.

The determination is among the first issued by an attorney general that provides insight on how laws heavily restricting abortion affect those seeking in vitro fertilization, or IVF, since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion.

“Disposing of an embryo that was created outside a woman’s body and that has never been transferred to a woman’s body thus does not qualify as ‘abortion,'” Jonathan Skrmetti wrote in his opinion.

The two-page document was quietly published on the attorney general’s website on Oct. 20 at the request of Tennessee’s Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, a Republican currently seeking reelection.

Until then, like most states that recently enacted harsh abortion bans, the attorney general’s office had not provided guidance on enforcing Tennessee’s so-called trigger law. Unlike many states’ abortions bans, including the one in Texas, Tennessee’s law does not explicitly exempt abortions performed to save a mother’s life. Instead, doctors are required, if charged, to convince a criminal court that an abortion was needed to save the mother’s life or avoid a serious risk of impairing a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.

In a statement, Johnson said a constituent who was undergoing IVF treatment reached out to him confused over the trigger law.

“While I felt that the law was clear and that it did not apply to this particular case and others like it, I was more than happy to ask the Attorney General for his opinion to clear up any perceived misunderstandings in the law and was pleased that the Attorney General arrived at the same conclusion,” Johnson said.

While Skrmetti’s opinion clarifies the disposal of unused embryos, it remains unclear if the law applies to the selective reduction process sometimes used to remove a fetus from a woman’s womb if fertility treatments result in multiple pregnancies.

A spokesperson for the attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to comment Friday.

Earlier this year, a Tennessee woman went viral after publishing a video detailing an emailed back-and-forth conversation with Republican state Rep. Ryan Williams over the disposal of human embryos.

Williams initially wrote that “life does begin at conception either in the womb or in the IVF clinic,” and that doctors who discard those embryos would be a violation of state law — a punishment that carries a felony conviction and $10,000 fine.

Williams told The Associated Press he has since met with several attorneys and now says his interpretation of the law was incorrect.

He provided an email showing that he emailed the woman back to “extend his sincerest apologies” surrounding his original response.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Photo: Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is sworn-in before the House Committee on Hom...

the MyNorthwest Staff with wire reports

Senate dismisses two articles of impeachment against Homeland Security secretary, ends trial

The Senate dismissed impeachment charges against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, as Republicans pushed to remove him.

13 hours ago

idaho gender-affirming care...

Associated Press

Supreme Court allows Idaho to enforce its ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth

The Supreme Court is allowing Idaho to enforce its ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth while lawsuits over the law proceed.

2 days ago

Image: Former President Donald Trump speaks to the press in Manhattan state court in New York City ...

Associated Press

Trump’s hush money trial gets underway; 1st day ends without any jurors selected

The historic hush money trial of Donald Trump got underway Monday with the arduous process of selecting a jury to hear the case.

2 days ago

Photo: Israeli Iron Dome air defense system launches to intercept missiles fired from Iran, in cent...

Tia Goldenberg and Josef Federman, The Associated Press

Israel is quiet on next steps against Iran — and on which partners helped shoot down missiles

On Sunday, Israel's leaders credited an international military coalition with helping thwart a direct attack from Iran.

3 days ago

Early phases of Iran's drone attack against Israel. (Photo: Getty Images)...

Associated Press

The Latest | Iran launches its first direct military attack against Israel

Iran launched its first full-scale military attack against Israel on Saturday, sending drones toward Israel.

5 days ago

Early phases of Iran's drone attack against Israel. (Photo: Getty Images)...

Associated Press

BREAKING: White House confirms Iran drone attacks towards Israel

JERUSALEM (AP) — The White House says it will provide unspecified support for Israel’s defense against an ongoing airborne attack from Iran. National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a Saturday statement that “Iran has begun an airborne attack against Israel.” She added: “The United States will stand with the people of Israel and […]

5 days ago

AG: Disposing embryos outside uterus not against Tenn. law