KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Supreme Court’s decision to end the federal constitutional right to an abortion and grant states regulation power has many Tennesseans in turmoil, while others celebrate.
“On Friday innocent human life won,” Angela Maden, the vice president of the state’s oldest and largest pro-life organization, Right to Life, said. “Tennessee has always been a pro-life state and when Roe was initially handed down, we were one of thirty states that had laws on our books protecting the unborn.”
Chloe Akers, a Knoxville criminal defense attorney, says Tennessee’s trigger laws are leaving a lot of people unprotected.
“The first thing that jumped off the page was I don’t see any affirmative defense that relates to sexual assault, and that to me was incredibly shocking,” Akers said. “Then I thought about it even further and I thought, I don’t see anything in here about incest, I don’t see anything about a woman or young girl that’s been trafficked or forced into prostitution. I don’t see anything in here about an ectopic pregnancy.”
According to March of Dimes, about 1 in every 50 pregnancies in the U.S. is an ectopic pregnancy. Between 6% to 16% of pregnant women who go to an emergency department in the first trimester for bleeding, pain, or both have an ectopic pregnancy.
“The doctor would have to evaluate the likelihood of that scenario and if it could cause death, and when could it cause death, under what circumstances,” Akers said. Then she stated that doctors would have to question if it is severe enough under law to move forward with an abortion.
“Doctors may have to consult with an attorney before helping a patient, and for me, that was a moment of terror,” she said.
Now she’s hoping to send an even bigger message.
“I’m not interested in shouting and yelling and telling another person that they’re wrong or they’re ignorant or any of these insults that I feel both sides throw around,” Akers said. “What I am interested in is giving folks the space to do what I’ve seen juries do and that’s deliberate, and if they have questions and concerns and they’re not satisfied with the law as it’s written, to take the next step and challenge our legislators.”
However, those against abortion say options provided for soon-to-be mothers, regardless of their circumstance, are what now needs to be considered.
“We need to offer women and girls a solution that allows them to have their children, to keep them if they choose, to provide them to a loving family if that’s the best option to them, but we should never say to a woman that the option you have is to kill her unborn child,” Maden said. “That is not acceptable for a society.”
The Tennessee trigger law is expected to go into effect 30 days after the recent ruling, but there is a push for it to become effective sooner.