Rep. Stacey Campfield, a Republican, said his bill would provide a way to track how many abortions are performed. He predicted it would pass in the Republican-controlled Senate but would have a hard time making it through the Democratic House.
"All these people who say they are pro-life — at least we would see how many lives are being ended out there by abortions," said Campfield.
The number of abortions reported to the state Office of Vital Records is already publicly available. The office collects records — but not death certificates — on abortions and the deaths of fetuses after 22 weeks gestation or weighing about 1 pound.
The identities of the women who have abortions are not included in those records, but death certificates include identifying information such as Social Security numbers.
Campfield's bill, introduced Monday, would give abortion providers 10 days following an "induced termination of a pregnancy" to file a death certificate.
House Judiciary Chairman Rob Briley, a Democrat, called Campfield's proposal "the most preposterous bill I've seen" in an eight-year legislative career.
"It is totally inconsistent with everything the law contemplates as it relates to anything close to that subject," he said.
The anti-abortion group Tennessee Right to Life has not yet taken a position on the death certificate bill, said spokeswoman Myra Simons. But she said the organization applauds the sponsors' efforts to "draw attention to the way abortion is handled in Tennessee."
Keri Adams, vice president of Planned Parenthood in Tennessee, on Wednesday called the proposal an attempt to terrorize frightened and vulnerable women who are seeking abortion.
"We certainly hope the Tennessee Legislature doesn't invest too much energy in this bill," she said. "We think it's clearly a violation of privacy, and potentially illegal concerning HIPAA regulations."