Tennessee healthcare providers fear consequences of SCOTUS leak

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) – Tennessee health care providers are reacting to the leak of the US Supreme Court’s draft opinion on abortion.

Some worry that women in Tennessee are turning to dangerous practices to end their pregnancies.

“Women have always done this. If you look back in history, they have always done this,” said Dr. Ellen Wright Clayton, a law professor and pediatrician. “Some of the people who taught me when I was in medical school talked about what it was like to care for women who had septic abortions…so it’s really going to happen.”

A reversal would have a significant impact on Tennessee’s abortion law. In 2019, the state legislature passed a law banning abortion outright if Roe v. Wade.

“Women will have to go to states that offer these services, and already Connecticut and California have decided they will be paradise states, but it’s a long way to go nonetheless,” Wright Clayton said.

Doctors said banning abortion would not prevent it from happening and would only drive some of it underground. Primary care doctors don’t know if women who have abortions elsewhere will even be able to get follow-up care in Tennessee.

“There is a lot of uncertainty in this future,” said Dr. Amy Gordon Bono. “What really worries me are the people who are suffering in silence at home and having poor outcomes, or God forbid, who are traveling and doing medical tourism in Mexico, potentially even to get the care they need.”

Between 9,000 and 11,000 abortions occurred each year in Tennessee between 2017 and 2019, according to the CDC.

Today, abortion is still legal, which doctors think is important for all women to remember.

“The court hasn’t ruled that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, and we don’t know if they will, so it’s really, really important not to think it’s over,” Wright Clayton said.

Ashley Coffield, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi, the region’s leading abortion provider, released this statement:

“First and foremost, abortion is legal today in Tennessee, and our doors remain open. We will continue to provide abortion care until the minute we can no longer legally do so.
We know the harm that will result from this decision, and we know it will most affect black people, Latinos and other people of color who are already feeling the effects of abortion bans and restrictions disproportionately, a product of this country’s legacy of racism and discrimination. .
The elimination of the right to abortion will have serious consequences on the life and death of our patients, and we will fight like madmen to defend their lives.
At Planned Parenthood, we’re preparing for this outcome well before 2019, when the Tennessee General Assembly passed a trigger ban that will go into effect 30 days after Roe’s cancellation. Plans are underway to hire and train patient navigators who will help people access safe and legal abortion outside of Tennessee and Mississippi.
While our politicians are divided on this issue, a clear majority of Americans believe the government should stay away from private medical decisions, and many in our region will be shocked and outraged by this decision if it stands.
I encourage everyone to join our rally advocates today in major cities across the region and sign up to receive updates viaplannedparenthoodadvocates.org. We are most likely facing the end of safe and legal abortion in the United States, and now is the time to make your voice heard.

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