Federal Trial Begins For Tennessee’s Controversial Abortion Reversal Law

Dec 2, 2020

Tennessee women's rights groups are challenging a state law they say will interfere with the decision making process for women undergoing drug induced abortions.
Credit Blake Farmer / WPLN

Tennessee women’s rights groups are challenging a state law they say will interfere with the decision-making process for pregnant people undergoing drug-induced abortions.

A court hearing on the issue began at the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee on Tuesday afternoon. The days-long trial will determine the law’s constitutionality.

The source of controversy is the abortion reversal theory. It promotes the idea that individuals can possibly undo the effects of the initial pill used to terminate pregnancies.

Tennessee’s rule would mandate that doctors communicate that option to women at least 48 hours before finishing an abortion procedure. The law would also make it illegal — a Class E felony — for physicians to refuse to comply.

Doctors who oppose the theory say that it’s based on shaky medical data that hasn’t been proven.

One physician told the court that she found the law to be unethical, and that the theory gave pregnant people the false impression that drug-induced abortions could be reversed after the procedure has already begun.

The state, however, says there is no proof that the theory is invalid.

Attorneys for the state say the intent is to provide a second option to those who no longer want to terminate a pregnancy after they’ve already started the abortion procedure.

The law was originally set to take effect last month. It was blocked by a temporary restraining order in September.