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His role in Tennessee if abortions are banned


Even before the United States Supreme Court became increasingly conservative, Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi began preparing for a reality without a constitutional right to abortion.

Politico released a leaked opinion Monday night that suggested the court was considering a decision that would overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established a constitutional right to abortion.

In 2019, both houses of the Tennessee General Assembly passed what is known as a “trigger ban” on abortion, a law that would automatically go into effect 30 days after Roe v. Wade.

The passage of the trigger law kicked off preparations for Planned Parenthood; A central part of this planning is the hiring and training of “patient navigators” – reproductive health care providers who will help people access safe and legal abortions outside of Tennessee.

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Ashley Coffield, CEO of Planned Parenthood, offered insight into a post-Roe v. Wade Tennessee in remarks to reporters Tuesday.

The role of patient navigators, Coffield said, will include assessing barriers a patient faces, such as financial inability or lack of transportation. And for patients recovering from an abortion, Planned Parenthood will still be able to offer follow-up care in Tennessee.

The healthcare provider is also considering offering patients free emergency contraceptive pills, a change from their current practice of offering the contraceptive method at cost.

Planned Parenthood will continue to provide health care options aimed at preventing unwanted pregnancies. Other sexual and reproductive health-related offerings like screening for cancer and sexually transmitted diseases shouldn’t be affected once Planned Parenthood stops offering abortions in Tennessee, Coffield said.

But even as Planned Parenthood plans, a number of unknowns await Tennessee residents who need reproductive health and abortion care providers.

The state’s current count of foster children, about 8,000 according to the Franklin-based nonprofit Tennessee Kids Belong, may increase as more individuals are forced into foster care. parenthood.


What if Roe v. Wade is canceled and abortion is prohibited?

A leaked draft Supreme Court opinion suggests the court is preparing to overturn Roe v. Wade of 1973 which legalized abortion.

Cody Godwin, Associated Press

It’s also unclear what the implications of a post-Roe v. Wade on infant mortality rates. In Shelby County, the number of children dying before their first birthday was among the highest in the country before a concerted effort to give more parents access to prenatal care reduced the death toll.

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Tennessee’s maternal mortality rate — deaths caused by pregnancy-related complications — has increased over the past four years, according to state reports. From 2017 to 2020, 113 Tennessee women died from complications of childbirth. According to the state, black women in Tennessee are more than 2.5 times more likely to die from these complications than their white counterparts.

As the healthcare provider and Tennesseans wait to see if the SCOTUS ruling will line up with the leaked draft, Coffield offered reporters a reassurance on Tuesday.

“Removing the right to abortion will have grave consequences in the life and death of our patients, and we will fight like hell to defend their lives,” Coffield said.

Micaela Watts is a reporter for The Commercial Appeal and can be reached at [email protected]