Tennessee Bill Regarding Informed Consent and Waiting Period (HB 977)
This law was last updated on Feb 18, 2015
HB 977 contains provisions related to (1) informed consent; (2) 48-hour waiting period; and (3) prohibiting coercion.
HB 977 requires that, prior to receiving an abortion, each pregnant woman seeking an abortion be orally informed by her attending physician of the following and sign a consent form acknowledging that she has been informed by her attending physician of the following:
- That according to the best judgment of her attending physician, she is pregnant;
- The number of weeks that have elapsed since the probable time of conception;
- That if more than 24 weeks have passed since conception, her child may be capable of surviving outside of the womb, and that if the child is prematurely born alive in the course of an abortion, her attending physician has a legal obligation to take steps to preserve the life and health of the child;
- That abortion in a considerable number of cases constitutes a major surgical procedure;
- That numerous public and private agencies and services are available to assist the woman during her pregnancy and after the birth of her child, if she chooses not to have the abortion, whether she wishes to keep the child or place the child for adoption, and that her physician will provide her with a list of the agencies and the services available if she so requests; and
- That numerous benefits and risks are attendant either to continued pregnancy and childbirth or to abortion depending upon the circumstances in which the patient might find herself. The physician shall explain these benefits and risks to the best of the physician’s ability and knowledge of the circumstances involved.
This law requires that, at the same time the physician delivers the above information, the physician must inform the woman of the particular risks associated with her pregnancy and childbirth and the abortion or child delivery technique to be employed, including providing her with at least a general description of the medical instructions to be followed subsequent to the abortion or childbirth in order to ensure her safe recovery.
HB 977 also requires that, except in case of medical emergency, there be a 48-hour waiting period after the physician provides the required information, excluding the day on which the information was given. On the third day following the day the information was given, the patient may return to the physician and sign a consent form.
When a medical emergency compels the performance of an abortion, the physician shall inform the woman, prior to the abortion if possible, of the medical reasons supporting the physician’s judgment that an abortion is necessary to avert her death or to avert substantial and irreversible impairment of major bodily function.
In any case in which a physician has determined that a medical emergency exists that excuses compliance with the waiting period provisions, the physician shall state in the pregnant woman’s medical records the basis for such determination.
The law requires any physician’s office or ambulatory surgical centers that perform more than 50 abortions in a year, or any other abortion clinic or facility to conspicuously display a sign in each patient admission area, waiting room, and patient consulting room, as specified.
The sign should read:
Notice: It is against the law for anyone, regardless of the person’s relationship to you, to coerce you into having or to force you to have an abortion. By law, we cannot perform an abortion on you unless we have your freely given and voluntary consent. It is against the law to perform an abortion on you against your will. You have the right to contact any local or state law enforcement agency to receive protection from any actual or threatened criminal offense to coerce an abortion.
Its companion, SB 1222 was signed into law by Gov. Haslam on May 18, 2015.