Tennessee’s full abortion ban goes into effect Thursday

Published: Aug. 23, 2022 at 11:10 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Many uncertainties remain in a post-Roe world. In Tennessee, some physicians are asking questions about what their rights are ahead of a full abortion ban going into effect on Thursday.

“Make no mistake. There are no exceptions in this law,” said Defense attorney Blake Ballin.

That law is called the Human Life Protection Act. It goes into effect on Thursday which is one month after state Attorney General Herbert Slatery notified the Tennessee Code Commission to follow the U.S. Supreme Court’s final judgment in the case that overturned the federal right to an abortion.

RELATED | How US states have banned, limited or protected abortion

Immediately following the court’s initial ruling in June, a six-week abortion ban went into effect in Tennessee. That restriction left only one clinic in Shelby County to perform abortions.

The Human Life Protection Act will supersede that law and is even more restrictive and bans all abortions.

“This just could not be more restrictive. There are no exceptions of any kind. [not for] rape, incest, child abuse,” said Ballin.

Ballin with Ballin Ballin and Fishman said the law outlines no exception for an abortion if the mother’s life is at risk, and says a doctor performing an abortion can be charged with a felony.

Ballin said the law does allow for the mother’s life to be an affirmative defense in a criminal case.

“What’s so scary about that from the point of a doctor performing these services is that it is their burden, it is their duty to prove to a jury, after being arrested, after being dragged through the court process, that they had a defense,” said Ballin.

Ballin said he’s been approached by national abortion rights groups who are trying to advise physicians about their rights and looking for counsel in the case doctors are prosecuted.

Action News 5 reached out to hospitals in the Memphis Metro to see if they are adjusting any policies for doctors ahead of the enactment of the law.

Baptist Medical Group said it will continue to provide safe and legal care to patients:

“Our policy on this issue has not changed. As always, our focus is on providing safe and quality care for all patients, and we will continue to do that in line with our medical staff policies.”

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