Gov. Bill Lee signs narrow exceptions to Tennessee’s ban on abortion
Advocates say it won’t help the state’s maternal mortality rate.
Tennessee has adopted narrow exceptions to the state’s abortion ban. Gov. Bill Lee signed the legislation into law Friday, which will allow doctors to perform an abortion if it saves the life of the patient. The law doesn’t make exceptions for rape or incest.
But physician advocacy groups say the law doesn’t do enough to protect doctors in a state where the maternal mortality rate is already high.
Memphis state Sen. London Lamar argued for the law during session. She said that she knows what it’s like to have health complications because of pregnancy.
“And I’m thankful that, at that time, the doctor was able to terminate that pregnancy, so I wouldn’t have died,” Lamar said. “And I’m telling you, as your own colleague, as your own niece, baby girl, I love you all. It is real, not only for me, but for women all across the state — if you look at our maternal mortality and morbidity stats here in this state.”
2021 saw a significant rise in people dying while pregnant or soon after giving birth, according to a recent report. The rate is especially acute for Black women, who are 2.5 times more likely to die than white women.
In a statement, Planned Parenthood of Tennessee says that the law does “less than nothing” for reproductive rights in the state.
Lawmakers say that doctors can provide abortion services for miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies.