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Despite a strong push to keep the records public in Tennessee, two Republican lawmakers are sponsoring a bill that would make the results of autopsies conducted by the state and county medical examiners secret.

The legislation is sponsored by Rep. Eddie Smith, R-Knoxville, and Sen. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, a physician who also is the medical examiner for Lewis County. Both say having the forensic findings available to the public can be difficult for family members of the dead and means that family medical conditions may become public.

Although autopsy reports can be sensitive, critics of the bill say the reports are also vital resources to help ensure government accountability and that those in the criminal justice system adequately perform their duties, especially when suspicious deaths are involved. 

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