The Look in Brief

A new challenge to Tennessee’s abortion ban

By: - September 12, 2023 5:43 pm
Women at a Nashville protest for abortion rights on June 24. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Women at a Nashville protest for abortion rights on June 24, 2022. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Two doctors and three women filed a lawsuit against Tennessee’s abortion law, arguing it prevents the implementation of life-saving medical care.

“Pregnant people in Tennessee have suffered needless physical and emotional pain and harm, including loss of their fertility,” said lawyers in suit’s filing documents. “These pregnant people are not imagined. They are not ideological talking points. They are real people, many with children who depend upon them.”

It’s the first challenge to Tennessee’s strict abortion ban since a narrow exception bill passed the State Legislature earlier this year.

The exception law allows physicians to perform abortions in limited medical emergencies like molar or ectopic pregnancies to remove a miscarriage, save the mother’s life or “prevent serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.”

The suit argues the exceptions passed aren’t clear enough, creating a “pervasive fear and uncertainty throughout the medical community.”

Before the new legislation, Tennessee doctors could be charged with a felony for performing an abortion even if the mother’s life was in danger, but they were allowed to argue the procedure was necessary as a defense in court.

Tennessee’s abortion ban went into effect in August 2022, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the right to an abortion, allowing states to regulate the procedure. State Republican lawmakers passed an automatic trigger law in 2019 banning abortion if the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade.

The abortion lawsuit, filed Monday, is supported by the Center for Reproductive Rights, which has filed similar cases in other states.

The plaintiffs in the suit are Nicole Blackmon, Allyson Phillips, and Kaitlyn Dulong, and Drs. Heather Maune and Laura Andreson.



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Adam Friedman
Adam Friedman

Adam Friedman is a reporter with the Tennessee Lookout. He has a particular love for data and using numbers to explain all kinds of topics. If you have a story idea, he'd love to hear it. Email him at [email protected] or call him at 615-249-8509.