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Tennessee's trigger ban is now in effect, meaning abortion seekers will have to travel out of state

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Choices: Memphis Center for Reproductive Health is moving to Carbondale, Ill., roughly a three-hour drive from the Nashville area. But the clinic won't be ready to see patients until mid-September, at the earliest.

It will still be a month or more before abortions are available within a three-hour drive of Nashville. Clinics in Carbondale, Ill., are still under construction, even as Tennessee’s total abortion ban takes effect today.

Memphis-based Choices is relocating its clinic to Carbondale, which will be the closet option to both Nashville and Memphis, but it won’t be ready to treat patients until at least mid-September.

“We are finalizing some details related to staffing and construction,” development director Holly Calvasina said in an email to WPLN News.

Even once open, the clinic will be providing only medication abortions, which mostly occur in the first trimester, but the organization hopes to add surgical abortions in the coming months.

Dr. Alan Braid, a Texas abortion provider, has also announced plans for a clinic in Carbondale. That could make the college town a haven for people across the South who are seeking abortions, though there is growing resistance in parts of Southern Illinois.

For now, abortion providers in Tennessee are sending patients to the Hope Clinic for Women and Planned Parenthood in the Illinois suburbs of St. Louis or all the way to Chicago. For those living farther east, Planned Parenthood in Asheville is also an option, though North Carolina’s laws are slightly more restrictive.

Tennessee’s Planned Parenthood clinics in Nashville and Memphis stopped abortions within days of the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade and have focused on helping patients travel out of state.

“We’re willing to help provide funds as needed, helping make sure people get transportation … accommodations or childcare,” says Francie Hunt, executive director of Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood. “We’re helping as social workers.”

Blake Farmer is Nashville Public Radio's senior health care reporter. In a partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, Blake covers health in Tennessee and the health care industry in the Nashville area for local and national audiences.
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