News Abortion

Two Anti-Abortion Measures Go by the Wayside in Tennessee

Dennis Carter

One of the GOP-backed anti-abortion laws threatened to close two of the six abortion clinics in Tennessee, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Tennessee officials on Friday said they would not enforce a pair of anti-abortion laws similar to Texas measures struck down last year by the U.S. Supreme Court.

A law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a local hospital and a law mandating clinics that provide more than 50 abortions annually to operate as an ambulatory surgical care (ASC) centers—both medically unnecessary provisions pushed by anti-choice activists and lawmakers—will not be enforced in Tennessee, according to state officials, including Attorney General Herbert Slatery III, the Tennessean reported.

The ASC mandate threatened to close two of the six abortion clinics in Tennessee, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR). Both laws were passed by the Republican-held Tennessee legislature.

Three Tennessee abortion clinics in 2015 challenged the anti-abortion laws, according to the Tennessean. The Nashville federal court issued a stay until the U.S. Supreme Court decided on the Texas anti-abortion omnibus bill known as HB 2. The Roberts Court struck down two provisions of the Texas GOP’s law that gutted abortion access in the state.

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Abortion care access in Texas has since made a gradual comeback, with the Whole Woman’s Health clinic in north Austin slated to reopen this month.

Pro-choice advocates said anti-choice policymakers in Tennessee understood that laws designed to erode access to abortion care wouldn’t hold up in court.

“Today Tennessee officials finally saw the writing on the wall and gave up their defense of these two baseless restrictions on safe and legal abortion,” Nancy Northup, CRR’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “Whether in Texas or Tennessee or elsewhere, these sham restrictions on women’s constitutional right to safe, legal abortion cannot stand.”

Rebecca Terrell, executive director of Choices, a reproductive health center in Memphis, said state officials’ decision not to enforce the two anti-abortion measures removed an unneeded obstacle for those seeking abortion care.

“Today’s victory is great news for people who have made the decision to end a pregnancy in Tennessee,” she said in a statement.  “Our patients should never be forced to scale unnecessary and politically motivated hurdles when they need safe and legal health care.  Tennessee politicians should take note: we will continue to fight unjust laws and stand up for all people and their right to comprehensive reproductive health care.”

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