New TN laws having impact on abortion clinics, even as legal disputes remain

The new laws that took effect on July 1 are already having an effect on Tennessee abortion clinics even as legal disputes remain, reports The Tennessean.

At a Nashville Planned Parenthood clinic, staff cut back on the number of scheduled abortions last week in order to accommodate a new law requiring women to make two appointments, first to talk to a doctor ā€” then return for an abortion after waiting at least 48 hours.

It is one of two new abortion policies to take effect July 1, even as a spate of legal challenges have been filed against the newly enacted measures both in Tennessee and elsewhere.

…At Choices, the Memphis Center for Reproductive Health, the cost of an abortion increased by more than 50 percent ā€” from an average price of $455 in June to $700 after July 1 to cover the expenses of extra physician and staff time required for two clinic appointments, according to executive director Rebecca Terrell.

The clinic’s full-time physician devoted an entire day to counseling 20 women, instead of performing abortions. One client had made an eight-hour round-trip from Mississippi for counseling on Friday only to make the same trip Wednesday for the abortion, Terrell said.

Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee President and CEO Jeff Teague said the new rules have also created frustration and confusion among women they serve.

“They were asking lots of questions about why they had to wait and why the doctor was having to tell them stuff that doesn’t apply to them,” said Teague, citing a provision of the new law requiring a doctor to explain to a woman that if she has an abortion at 24 weeks that results in a live birth, the doctor is required to try and save the baby’s life.

“The majority of women are six, seven, eight weeks pregnant and they were like, ‘Why are you telling me this?’ ” he said. “It’s just a lot of unnecessary information.”