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Tenn. Governor Signs 48-Hour Mandatory Delay Bill

Tenn. Governor Signs 48-Hour Mandatory Delay Bill

May 19, 2015 — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) on Monday signed a bill (SB 1222) into law that will impose a 48-hour mandatory delay before a woman can obtain an abortion, Reuters reports.

The law is scheduled to take effect July 1.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, Tennessee is now one of 26 states that impose mandatory delays before an abortion (Ghianni, Reuters, 5/18). Meanwhile, lawmakers in Florida and North Carolina have submitted mandatory delay legislation to their respective governors (Wadhwani, Tennessean/USA Today, 5/18).

Law Details

The law also will require that women receive in-person counseling from a physician prior to having an abortion, forcing women to make an additional trip to the clinic prior to the abortion procedure. In the case of a medical emergency, the counseling requirement will be waived (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/11). Physicians who are found to violate the counseling requirement could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony. They also could have their medical licenses revoked (Tennessean/USA Today, 5/18).

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, 5/11).

Reaction

Supporters of the law say it will help protect women's health and welfare, according to the Tennessean/USA Today.

Meanwhile, opponents of the measure note that abortion is now the only medical procedure that will require a mandatory delay. In addition, they note that some women have to travel 100 miles or more to reach one of the seven abortion clinics in the state and that requiring women to make two trips could lead to burdensome expenses.

Planned Parenthood of the Greater Memphis Region said in a statement that the law "is a tool to shame and disgrace women who make the deeply personal decision to end a pregnancy" and that "it creates unnecessary financial and emotional hardships" (Tennessean/USA Today, 5/18).