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Tennessee Bill To Expand Newborn Health Disorder Screenings Passes On First Consideration

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The Tennessee Conservative [By Kelly M. Jackson] –

This week, a bill to expand the number of disorders that are automatically screened for in newborns when they are born in the state of Tennessee passed on its first consideration. 

Senate Bill 1791 (SB1791), sponsored by Senator Becky Massey (R-Knoxville-District 5), states  “Health Care – As introduced, requires all infants born in this state to be screened for specific genetic, metabolic, or other heritable conditions, including, but not limited to, conditions listed on the Recommended Uniform Screening Panel (RUSP); allows the department of health to require newborn screening for conditions not listed on the RUSP; requires certain implementation and reporting requirements regarding such newborn screening. – Amends TCA Title 68, Chapter 5, Part 4.”

The bill is being carried by Representative David Hawk (R-Greenville-District 5) in the House as HB1973.

Newborn screening is already required in the state of Tennessee, however the type of required screenings vary from state to state. The adoption of the RUSP would be a move in the direction of national uniformity for these types of screenings. 

It is unclear exactly how the bill will impact Tennesseans, mainly because there is no information attached in the state website that provides it, except that newborns will be screened for several more possible inherited disorders than they currently are. 

It’s a natural assumption, that due to the increase, there will be a fiscal impact if the bill is passed, because the health departments in the state will be in charge of managing the testing and those records.  Increased volume usually leads to increased spending.

There doesn’t appear to be any changes to this portion of legislation regarding a parent’s ability to opt out of the screening for religious reasons. That ability appears to still be intact should this bill become law. 

As a reminder, Senator Massey’s voting record is less than stellar, especially when it comes to the types of issues that matter most in this post covid, expanding populist conservative existence. 

This includes not voting in favor of parental rights or school choice and instead choosing to support corporate welfare, toll roads, and weaker abortion laws.

Sen. Massey has also voted against medical freedom and was part of Gov. Lee’s “inner circle” on gun control legislation.

In 2022 she voted in favor of Sen. Richard Briggs’ (R-Knoxville-District 7) HPV vaccine legislation.

SB0148 was a failed caption bill that would have authorized healthcare providers to not only treat minors for STDS, but also would’ve allowed them to provide “treatment to a minor to prevent STDs, without the knowledge or consent of the parents or legal guardians of the minor.” 

So, while this new legislation at first glance seems to be one that may be of some kind of benefit to the babies and parents of Tennessee, it remains to be seen whether this is any different than any of the other bills proposed, or supported by Senator Massey. 

About the Author: Kelly Jackson is a recent escapee from corporate America, and a California refugee to Tennessee. Christ follower, Wife and Mom of three amazing teenagers. She has a BA in Comm from Point Loma Nazarene University, and has a background in law enforcement and human resources. Since the summer of 2020, she has spent any and all free time in the trenches with local grassroots orgs, including Mom’s for Liberty Williamson County and Tennessee Stands as a core member.  Outspoken advocate for parents rights, medical freedom, and individual liberty. Kelly can be reached at

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