Tennessee's abortion laws closely resemble those of its neighboring states, which are united in their support of pro-life legislation.
Before a woman in Tennessee can end a pregnancy, she must complete state-sponsored counseling, where the emphasis is on discouraging her from having the procedure. Among the issues discussed are the viability of the fetus, the risks involved with the surgical procedure, and alternatives to abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute
, which researches abortion laws nationwide.
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The Guttmacher Institute also notes that Tennessee is one of 23 states that require abortion providers to meet ambulatory surgical center standards.
In May 2015, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed a law that requires women seeking an abortion to wait 48 hours to have the procedure following an in-person consultation, making Tennessee the 27th state to enforce some type of waiting period. Also, doctors risk losing their license if they don't adhere to the rules regarding what to tell patients, according to The Tennessean
The new law, which took effect in July, restores abortion laws that were eliminated by a 2000 state Supreme Court, which had ended the waiting period and the stipulation that all but first-term abortions be performed in hospitals.
Health plans offered through the state's health exchange under the Affordable Care Act may not cover an abortion, and public funding is only available in cases of rape, incest, or if the mother's life is in danger. The parents of a minor also must be notified.
Despite its pro-life stance, Tennessee was ranked 23rd in 2014 by the anti-abortion group Americans United for Life
. The group noted in its report card that the state's Supreme Court "has read a state constitutional right to abortion into the state constitution, hampering recent efforts to enact many commonsense abortion regulations."
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Tennessee's neighbors were ranked thusly by Americans United for Life: Arkansas (3); Missouri (10); Georgia (13); Virginia (14); Mississippi (15); Kentucky (18); Alabama (20); and North Carolina (21).
Of Arkansas, the group said the state
"has been a leading proponent of life-affirming legal innovations. It was one of the first states to enact an ultrasound requirement and to require that women be informed about fetal pain. Arkansas is also one of only a small number of states that has completely banned human cloning."
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