EXPLAINER: When do Tennessee’s abortion trigger laws go into effect?

Published: Jul. 22, 2022 at 6:21 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Sunday marks 30 days since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, so when does the state’s trigger ban go into effect? One local attorney expects the ban to go into effect sometime in mid-August and said he is getting more and more calls about it.

“Lots of women have called me,” criminal defense attorney David Raybin said. “Fathers have called me,” Raybin said. The timeline for Tennessee’s abortion ban can be confusing. “A few physicians have called me for legal advice,” Raybin said.

On June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion overturning Roe v. Wade.

“Now, as a result of the ruling and its application to Tennessee specifically, I will quickly notify the Tennessee Code Commission that Roe & Casey have been overruled,” Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery said that day. “That is required by statute.”

Thirty days after Slatery notifies the code commission of the ruling is when the state’s trigger ban will go into effect, but Slatery has not told them yet. Slatery’s office said it is because they are still waiting on the Supreme Court to enter its official judgment on Roe V. Wade, which is different than the opinion issued last month.

“The U.S. Supreme Court decisions are released on certain days, but the actual judgment is not effective for 30 days after,” Raybin explained.

Slatery’s office expects the official judgment to be entered this month, meaning the trigger ban will likely go into effect sometime in August. This will criminalize physicians who perform surgical abortions in Tennessee or send abortion pills to Tennessee.

“I anticipate the law will be amended like it is in other states that the woman will be subject to criminal penalties if she even seeks an abortion,” Raybin said.

Raybin said the most important thing is for abortions to be done safely. After the ban goes into effect, Raybin said the safest bet is for women to travel out of state where they are legal to have the procedure or get pills.

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