Tennessee abortion clinics adjust to heartbeat bill


Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 10:14 PM CDT
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MOUNT JULIET, Tenn. (WSMV) - Abortion care clinics are re-adjusting their services after Tennessee’s heartbeat bill went into effect this week.

In Tennessee, it is illegal to receive and perform an abortion on patients with detectible embryonic or fetal cardiac activity, which usually starts around six weeks after a person’s last menstrual period.

Carafem, a reproductive and sexual health clinic in Mount Juliet, TN, has had to turn patients down because of the new law.

Melissa Grant, the clinic’s Chief Operations Officer, says they’re not planning to close their doors; however, they are modifying services to comply with the law.

“Instead, what we did was to look very carefully at the obligations of the law so that we were ready on a very short-term moment’s notice to change to become compliant,” said Grant during a video conference interview with WSMV 4.

Grant says since the abortion ban, they’ve had to re-direct half of their patients to clinics out of state.

“Unfortunately, now that we will be unable to provide care in many circumstances, if not most, we will be seeing clients traveling long distances again out of state in order to receive what’s otherwise legal healthcare. It’s shocking, it’s dismaying and really hard for the patients that really want the care as well as for my staff,” said Grant.

Grant described their patients’ emotions after learning of the ban. She says it’s been a tough week navigating their patients.

“We had others who were very upset in tears, not knowing what was going to happen. We even had one of our clients yesterday who expressed that maybe she was going to have to look at self-harm, and that was the hardest thing for our clients. We’ve had some people say that to us before. And ultimately, we can usually find ways to either assist money, or a different provider or something,” said Grant.

Moving forward, they’re working to help women receive care out of state if they don’t fall within the limits of the law.

“It’s so hard to tell somebody that once they’ve had the courage to contact us, to come into the clinic, to look at payment, to voice this need that’s so stigmatized.

To say I’m sorry I can’t help you it’s devastating,” said Grant.

Carafem says they will continue providing abortion after-care services for women six weeks or less, as well as pregnancy testing. Abortion care needs can also be found in the National Abortion Federation.

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