Since the Center filed its original case against Tennessee in September 2023 on behalf of three Tennessee women denied abortion care and two Tennessee physicians, more Tennesseans have come forward to tell their stories about being denied abortion care despite facing severe and sometimes life-threatening pregnancy complications. The case, Blackmon v. State of Tennessee, now has nine plaintiffs.
Here are the stories of the four women who joined the case as plaintiffs on January 8, 2024:
Monica Kelly, of northern Tennessee, was 12 weeks pregnant with her second child when her doctor told her that her pregnancy had Trisomy 13, a severe fetal condition, and was unlikely to survive to birth or would die shortly after birth. Monica’s doctor warned her that continuing the pregnancy would put her at risk for preeclampsia and infection, among other conditions. Monica traveled to Florida to receive the abortion care she needed, in part through the help of family and a trusted OB-GYN in the state.
Monica is now pregnant again and due in June.
Kathryn Archer, of Nashville, was 20 weeks pregnant with her second daughter when she learned that several severe fetal conditions, including irregular brain development and improperly developed organs, made it unlikely that her pregnancy would survive to birth. After struggling to find an appointment out of state, Kathryn was able to obtain abortion care in Washington, D.C. She was only able to afford the significant travel expenses with assistance from an abortion fund, friends and family, and a supportive church.
Kathryn is now pregnant again and due in May.
Rebecca Milner, of eastern Tennessee, was 20 weeks pregnant with her first child when she learned she had suffered pre-term premature rupture of membranes (PPROM) and her baby was unlikely to survive. Continuing the pregnancy also put Rebecca at risk of potentially life-threatening infection. She was able to travel with her husband to Virginia to obtain the abortion she needed. However, Rebecca still developed an infection that doctors said resulted from the delay in abortion care and needed emergency treatment for sepsis when she returned to Tennessee.
While Rebecca still wishes to have a child, she fears being pregnant again in Tennessee.
Rachel Fulton, of Knoxville, was pregnant with her second son when an ultrasound showed inadequate fetal development of the nervous system, lower spine, lungs, abdomen, feet, and hands, as well as fluid buildup in tissues and organs. The pregnancy was unlikely to survive to birth or long past birth, and continuing the pregnancy put Rachel at risk of developing mirror syndrome, a life-threatening complication. Rachel’s grandmother had died in childbirth, a tragedy that had a lifelong effect on Rachel’s father and his siblings. To safeguard her health and spare her family from such tragedy, she drove with her husband to Illinois to obtain abortion care.
Rachel would like to have more children but fears being pregnant again in Tennessee after her traumatic experience.