Proposed Tenn. bill says children born of artificial insemination are illegitimate

Two bills proposed in the Tennessee General Assembly have struck a chord with groups in the Mid-South.

Those bills look to repeal a statute legitimizing children born via artificial insemination. House Bill 1406 and Senate Bill 1153 are being opposed by families who have used artificial insemination to fight infertility.

WHBQ has been looking into these bills. Nationally, there are 6.1 million women in the country who struggle with infertility that go the route of artificial insemination, not to mention those in the LGBT community.

The House Bill as it is written is very vague. It repeals the statute that deems a child born to a married woman as a result of artificial insemination, with the consent of the husband, to be a legitimate child. But the people WHBQ spoke with wondered why a statute like this needs to be repealed at all.

One local mother showed WHBQ what her child, born through IVF was able to accomplish.

“She won the citizenship essay contest and she was given a plaque by the mayor at the time," Nancy Paschall, a proud mother, told WHBQ.

She took WHBQ through a wall of awards won by her daughter.  Paschall and her husband are one of the first families to have a child via IVF in the Mid-South. She is opposed to House Bill 1406, de-legitimizing children born via artificial insemination.

"It made me angry,” Paschall remembered. “To think that they would put that label on children born in this manner."

Paschall was so mad, she contacted the bill’s sponsors, State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver and State Senator Joey Hensley, via email. But the response she got from the senator did little to sway her anger.

"It also did not explain anything that made me understand, 'Oh, I see why this is where it came from.' The explanation left me going, 'What?'" Paschall said.

It also made her think of how many other people or groups might be affected.

"Perhaps they're trying in a roundabout way to de-legitimize couples that may not be a man and woman trying to have children, and that occurred to me. Maybe that was what was behind this, and that scared me,” She said. "My initial reaction to the bill is that it's just another attempt to target the LGBT community undercover. Talking about trying to clean up a law that is obsolete."

Will Bats is the executive director of Out Memphis, a group of advocates for the LGBT community. He told WHBQ that these proposals will label kids and strip his community of protections, especially lesbians couple trying to have children through IVF.

WHBQ reached out to Representative Terri Lynn Weaver multiple times via email and phone on Tuesday and has yet to hear back.