May 11, 2015 — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) on Friday signed into law a bill (SB 1280) that requires abortion clinics in the state to meet standards for outpatient surgical care centers, the Tennessean reports.
The measure is scheduled to take effect on July 1. According to the Tennessean, the state is now one of 23 that require abortion clinics to meet such standards (Wadhwani, Tennessean, 5/8).
The new law requires the six abortion clinics in Tennessee that provide surgical abortions to be licensed as ambulatory surgical centers. Specifically, the law requires all facilities or physician offices that perform more than 50 surgical abortions annually to be licensed as ambulatory surgical centers.
Four providers in the state currently meet ambulatory surgical center standards, while a fifth provider, in Knoxville, only provides medication abortion and is therefore not subject to the requirement. The two remaining clinics that provide surgical abortions and are not licensed as ambulatory surgical centers are the Bristol Regional Women's Center and the Women's Center in Nashville (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/30).
Center for Reproductive Rights President and CEO Nancy Northup said, "With the stroke of a pen, reproductive health clinics are threatened with closure and Tennessee's reputation as one of the few states in the South to protect women's rights and health care will be history."
Proponents of the law argued it will help to ensure women's health and safety.
Haslam Expected To Sign Other Abortion Restrictions
Meanwhile, Haslam has said he will sign another measure (SB 1222) passed by the Tennessee Legislature that would restrict reproductive rights in the state, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports (Sher, Chattanooga Times Free Press, 5/9).
The bill would impose a 48-hour mandatory delay before a woman could obtain an abortion and require that women receive in-person counseling from a physician prior to the procedure. In the case of a medical emergency, the counseling requirement would be waived.
The measure also includes a "spring-back" provision that would reduce the delay to 24 hours if the measure is stayed or struck down by a court. In addition, the remainder of the bill would stay in effect if any portion of the measure is found invalid (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/30).