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Abortion in Tennessee

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Abortion in Tennessee is legal. Only 40% of adults said in a poll by the Pew Research Center that abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

The number of abortion clinics in Tennessee has decreased over the years, with 128 in 1982, 33 in 1992 and seven in 2014.  There were 12,373 legal abortions in 2014, and 11,411 in 2015.

Terminology[edit source | edit]

The abortion debate most commonly relates to the "induced abortion" of an embryo or fetus at some point in a pregnancy, which is also how the term is used in a legal sense.[note 1] Some also use the term "elective abortion", which is used in relation to a claim to an unrestricted right of a woman to an abortion, whether or not she chooses to have one. The term elective abortion or voluntary abortion describes the interruption of pregnancy before viability at the request of the woman, but not for medical reasons.[1]

Anti-abortion advocates tend to use terms such as "unborn baby", "unborn child", or "pre-born child",[2][3] and see the medical terms "embryo", "zygote", and "fetus" as dehumanizing.[4][5] Both "pro-choice" and "pro-life" are examples of terms labeled as political framing: they are terms which purposely try to define their philosophies in the best possible light, while by definition attempting to describe their opposition in the worst possible light. "Pro-choice" implies that the alternative viewpoint is "anti-choice", while "pro-life" implies the alternative viewpoint is "pro-death" or "anti-life".[6] The Associated Press encourages journalists to use the terms "abortion rights" and "anti-abortion".[7]

Context[edit source | edit]

Free birth control correlates to teenage girls having a fewer pregnancies and fewer abortions. A 2014 New England Journal of Medicine study found such a link.  At the same time, a 2011 study by Center for Reproductive Rights and Ibis Reproductive Health also found that states with more abortion restrictions have higher rates of maternal death, higher rates of uninsured pregnant women, higher rates of infant and child deaths, higher rates of teen drug and alcohol abuse, and lower rates of cancer screening.[8]

According to a 2017 report from the Center for Reproductive Rights and Ibis Reproductive Health, states that tried to pass additional constraints on a women's ability to access legal abortions had fewer policies supporting women's health, maternal health and children's health.  These states also tended to resist expanding Medicaid, family leave, medical leave, and sex education in public schools.[9] According to Megan Donovan, a senior policy manager at the Guttmacher Institute, states have legislation seeking to protect a woman's right to access abortion services have the lowest rates of infant mortality in the United States.[9]

History[edit source | edit]

One of the biggest groups of women who oppose legalized abortion in the United States are southern white evangelical Christians.  These women voted overwhelming for Trump, with 80% of these voters supporting him at the ballot box in 2016. In November 2018, during US House exit polling, 75% of southern white evangelical Christian women indicated they supported Trump and only 20% said they voted for Democratic candidates.[10]

Legislative history[edit source | edit]

Fetal heartbeat bills by state, including time limit without exceptions marked:
  Heartbeat bill passed (to go into effect)
  Law partially passed by state legislature
  Law blocked by court order

By the end of the 1800s, all states in the Union except Louisiana had therapeutic exceptions in their legislative bans on abortions.[11] In the 19th century, bans by state legislatures on abortion were about protecting the life of the mother given the number of deaths caused by abortions; state governments saw themselves as looking out for the lives of their citizens.[11]

The state was one of 10 states in 2007 to have a customary informed consent provision for abortions.[12] In 2013, state Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) had provisions related to admitting privileges and licensing. They required clinics have hospital privileges and transfer agreement with a hospital.[13]

The state legislature was one of eight states nationwide that tried, and failed, to pass a fetal heartbeat bill in 2017.[14] They tried again in 2018, where they were one of ten states that tried and failed to pass a fetal heartbeat bill.[14] Two fetal heartbeat bills were filed in the Tennessee General Assembly in 2019. On January 23, 2019, by Rep. James "Micah" Van Huss filed HB 77 in the Tennessee House of Representatives.[15] On February 7, 2019, Sen. Mark Pody filed SB 1236 in the Tennessee Senate.[16] On February 20, 2019, HB 77 was passed out of a Public Health subcommittee and sent to the full committee.[17] On February 26, 2019, the House Public Health Committee voted 15–4 to send HB 77 to the House floor for a full vote.[18][19] On February 7, 2019, HB 77 was passed out of the Tennessee House by a vote of 66–21.[20] As of May 14, 2019, the state prohibited abortions after the fetus was viable, generally some point between week 24 and 28. This period uses a standard defined by the US Supreme Court in 1973 with the Roe v. Wade ruling and was not a result of state based legislation.[14]

Judicial history[edit source | edit]

The US Supreme Court's decision in 1973's Roe v. Wade ruling meant the state could no longer regulate abortion in the first trimester.[11]

Clinic history[edit source | edit]

Number of abortion clinics in Tennessee by year.

Between 1982 and 1992, the number of abortion clinics in the state declined by 47, going from 128 in 1982 to 33 in 1992.[21] In 2014, there were seven abortion clinics in the state.[22] In 2014, 96% of the counties in the state did not have an abortion clinic. That year, 63% of women in the state aged 15 – 44 lived in a county without an abortion clinic.[23] In 2017, there were four Planned Parenthood clinics in a state with a population of 1,519,130 women aged 15 – 49 of which all offered abortion services.[24]

Statistics[edit source | edit]

In the period between 1972 and 1974, there were zero recorded illegal abortion death in the state.[25] In 1990, 554,000 women in the state faced the risk of an unintended pregnancy.[21] In 2010, the state had 0 publicly funded abortions.[26] In 2014, 40% of adults said in a poll by the Pew Research Center that abortion should be legal in all or most cases.[27] In 2013, among white women aged 15–19, there were  abortions 690, 650 abortions for black women aged 15–19, 50 abortions for Hispanic women aged 15–19, and 20 abortions for women of all other races.[28] In 2017, the state had an infant mortality rate of 7.4 deaths per 1,000 live births.[9]

Number of reported abortions, abortion rate and percentage change in rate by geographic region and state in 1992, 1995 and 1996[29]
Census division and state Number Rate % change 1992–1996
1992 1995 1996 1992 1995 1996
Total 1,528,930 1,363,690 1,365,730 25.9 22.9 22.9 –12
East South Central 54,060 44,010 46,100 14.9 12 12.5 –17
Alabama 17,450 14,580 15,150 18.2 15 15.6 –15
Kentucky 10,000 7,770 8,470 11.4 8.8 9.6 –16
Mississippi 7,550 3,420 4,490 12.4 5.5 7.2 –42
Tennessee 19,060 18,240 17,990 16.2 15.2 14.8 –8
Number, rate, and ratio of reported abortions, by reporting area of residence and occurrence and by percentage of abortions obtained by out-of-state residents, US CDC estimates
Location Residence Occurrence % obtained by

out-of-state residents

Year Ref
No. Rate^ Ratio^^ No. Rate^ Ratio^^
Tennessee 10,987 8.5 135 12,373 9.5 152 21.3 2014 [30]
Tennessee 10,361 8 127 11,411 8.8 140 20.3 2015 [31]
Tennessee 10,523 8.1 130 11,235 8.6 139 18.6 2016 [32]
^number of abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44; ^^number of abortions per 1,000 live births

Criminal prosecutions of abortion[edit source | edit]

31-year-old Anna Yocca was charged with attempted first-degree murder in December 2015.  The charge was based on her trying to give herself an illegal abortion using a coat hanger.[33]

Abortion rights views and activities[edit source | edit]

Participants in the "March for life" walk along Concord Avenue in Knoxville, Tennessee, United States. The march is held annually to mark the anniversary (January 22) of the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade. The signs, designed to resemble stop signs, read, "Stop abortion now."
Knoxville Women's March 2017

Protests[edit source | edit]

Women from the state participated in marches supporting abortion rights as part of a #StoptheBans movement in May 2019.[34]

Footnotes[edit source | edit]

  1. According to the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade:

    (a) For the stage prior to approximately the end of the first trimester, the abortion decision and its effectuation must be left to the medical judgement of the pregnant woman's attending physician. (b) For the stage subsequent to approximately the end of the first trimester, the State, in promoting its interest in the health of the mother, may, if it chooses, regulate the abortion procedure in ways that are reasonably related to maternal health. (c) For the stage subsequent to viability, the State in promoting its interest in the potentiality of human life may, if it chooses, regulate, and even proscribe, abortion except where it is necessary, in appropriate medical judgement, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother.

    Likewise, Black's Law Dictionary defines abortion as "knowing destruction" or "intentional expulsion or removal".


References[edit source | edit]

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  2. Lua error in ...ribunto/includes/engines/LuaCommon/lualib/mwInit.lua at line 23: bad argument #1 to 'old_ipairs' (table expected, got nil).
  3. "The Roberts Court Takes on Abortion". New York Times. November 5, 2006. Retrieved January 18, 2008.
  4. Brennan 'Dehumanizing the vulnerable' 2000
  5. Lua error in ...ribunto/includes/engines/LuaCommon/lualib/mwInit.lua at line 23: bad argument #1 to 'old_ipairs' (table expected, got nil).
  6. Lua error in ...ribunto/includes/engines/LuaCommon/lualib/mwInit.lua at line 23: bad argument #1 to 'old_ipairs' (table expected, got nil).
  7. Goldstein, Norm, ed. The Associated Press Stylebook. Philadelphia: Basic Books, 2007.
  8. Lua error in ...ribunto/includes/engines/LuaCommon/lualib/mwInit.lua at line 23: bad argument #1 to 'old_ipairs' (table expected, got nil).
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  19. Lua error in ...ribunto/includes/engines/LuaCommon/lualib/mwInit.lua at line 23: bad argument #1 to 'old_ipairs' (table expected, got nil).
  20. Lua error in ...ribunto/includes/engines/LuaCommon/lualib/mwInit.lua at line 23: bad argument #1 to 'old_ipairs' (table expected, got nil).
  21. 21.0 21.1 Lua error in ...ribunto/includes/engines/LuaCommon/lualib/mwInit.lua at line 23: bad argument #1 to 'old_ipairs' (table expected, got nil).
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Template:Abortion by US state