KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Thursday marked the official start of abortions becoming a Class C felony in Tennessee. The state’s “trigger” law was passed back in 2019 but was brought to the forefront after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade back in June. Now, it’s a decision millions of Americans are dealing with.
For one East Tennessee mother, Shelly, this Human Life Protection Act is one that she has a hard time accepting after her own personal experience earlier this year. Last winter Shelly tried for a second pregnancy and was successful, but soon she received unfortunate news following genetic screenings that were done.
“My results came back positive,” Shelly said. “They came back for high-risk trisomy 18.”
Shelly is not only a mother, she’s also an OBGYN. Having knowledge in the medical field, Shelly decided to have more tests done. Each time it came back with strong signs of trisomy 18.
“Of the babies that are life born with trisomy 18, about 90 percent of them do pass by age one. Now there are some outliers there, but those are kind of the general statistics that we know about,” she said.
With the information and results Shelly had, she made a choice. In February at 12 weeks pregnant, she had an abortion.
“It was a fast timeline that I got results on Monday and had the procedure on Friday. That’s probably not the norm overall,” Shelly said. “That was me wanting to have some peace and be able to do what’s best for my family.”
It was a decision that wasn’t easy, and one that still has an effect on her today. Which makes it all the harder to accept the state’s trigger law officially being in place.
“The irony of today is that my due date for that pregnancy was tomorrow, and it’s heartbreaking that we feel that this is what our state stands for and this is how we’re treating women first and foremost and physicians that are taking care of women.”
Now Shelly fears for other women and said if this law was in effect during her pregnancy, everything would have been more difficult.
“I do have respect that everyone has their own personal views on what they would do in this situation, but for me, I don’t think you can fully appreciate what this decision might feel like if you’ve never been faced with it, and how privileged you must be to have not been in this situation,” she said.
Shelly is trying for a third pregnancy and has been faced with a lot of anxiety knowing the trigger law is in effect.
Criminal defense attorney Chloe Akers says she has launched a legal resource center to assist providers, attorneys, and patients in navigating the consequences of the law.
“I think this law is going to greatly impact women and their ability to have life-saving healthcare,” Akers said.
The law does not criminalize those who are pregnant and seeking an abortion; only physicians who attempt to or perform an abortion.