06.28.2022 (PRESS RELEASE) – Today, Tennessee’s ban on abortion after approximately six weeks into pregnancy took effect, prohibiting abortion in the state before many people even know they are pregnant. In today’s order, the Sixth Circuit vacated an injunction blocking the law – granted nearly two years ago in a case filed by abortion providers in the state – following the Supreme Court’s decision last Friday overturning Roe v. Wade. Tennessee is one of many states at risk for banning or severely restricting access to abortion.
The case that initially blocked this law was filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the ACLU of Tennessee on behalf of the Memphis Center for Reproductive Health, Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi, Knoxville Center for Reproductive Health, carafem, and two individual abortion providers in Tennessee.
Quotes from attorneys, advocates, and plaintiffs:
“This is just the beginning,” said Rabia Muqaddam, senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “We will continue to see many, many states ban abortion, creating huge abortion deserts in parts of this country resulting in serious harm to people and their families. We will do everything we can to maintain as much abortion access in Tennessee as possible—for as long as possible.”
“Abortion bans rob people of their ability to make the decisions that are best for themselves, their lives, and their futures,” said Ashley Coffield, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi. “It is unconscionable that Tennesseans will lose access to abortion in their communities because of this decision. Planned Parenthood remains committed to helping people in Tennessee and Mississippi access abortions outside our state, and our doors are open for non-judgmental information, resources, and financial and logistical support.”
“This is a dark day for Tennessean’s reproductive freedom,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “They have had their autonomy stolen from them by politicians. We are exploring all options not only to ensure that patients can access abortion, but to hold leaders accountable for robbing the people of Tennessee and Mississippi of their rights. This is not over.”
“This six-week ban forces people to carry pregnancies to term against their will and to face the resulting life-altering consequences,” said Hedy Weinberg, ACLU of Tennessee executive director. “The ban will disproportionately impact those who have always faced systemic barriers to care – including communities of color, young people, and people with limited incomes. With our partners, we will take the fight for control of our own bodies to the streets, to the capitol, and to the ballot box, until we have the power to make the best decisions for ourselves and our families.”
“This 6-week ban going into effect will be nothing short of devastating for the communities we serve in Tennessee,” said Melissa Grant, chief operations officer, carafem. “Since the Supreme Court’s decision, we have been flooded with phone calls from patients urgently trying to find out their options and our staff has worked around the clock to serve them. Unfortunately, this latest court decision means many will no longer have any option other than carrying to term against their will or fleeing the state if they need care beyond six weeks in pregnancy, before many even know they’re pregnant. In my more than 30 years in health care, nothing has been as hard as turning away patients from the care they need because politicians interfered with private health care decisions. We’ll continue doing everything in our power to serve patients up to six weeks of pregnancy.”