Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed a new measure into law on Monday that forces women seeking abortions to wait 48 hours after a mandated in-person “counseling” session with a doctor in order to undergo the procedure.
HB 977 (pdf), sponsored by Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough), makes Tennessee the 27th state to require patients seeking abortions to wait longer than 24 hours before having an abortion, according to (pdf) the Guttmacher Institute. At 48 hours, the waiting period is one of the longest in the nation. Opponents of the bill, including Planned Parenthood, have criticized lawmakers for crafting the legislation without consulting the medical community.
The new measure states that, barring a medical emergency, and with no exceptions for rape and incest, “no abortion will be performed until a waiting period of 48 hours has elapsed after the attending physician or referring physician has provided information” about the procedure.
However, as health advocates have noted, the information which physicians are required to provide comes from the state and is medically unfounded.
According to RH Reality Check, “In the last few years, state legislatures have been passing abortion restrictions largely based on unfounded theories that abortion is a dangerous procedure that significantly increases women’s risk of developing breast cancer and mental health disorders, among other claims.”
Under HB977, physicians who do not acquiesce to the new rules could face misdemeanor or felony charges. They also risk having their medical licenses revoked.
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