MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Supreme Court has ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade, the longtime legal precedent guaranteeing the right of legal abortion in the U.S.
The 6-3 ruling was handed down Friday morning, a major decision after months of protests and years of legal fighting over abortion rights in the country.
The decision means significant changes for women across the Mid-South. According to the Tennessee Department of Health, thousands of people travel to Shelby County for abortions. In 2019, of all abortions happening in Tennessee, nearly 40% happened in Shelby County.
There are two reproductive health clinics in Shelby County that performs abortions, Planned Parenthood, and CHOICES - Memphis Center for Reproductive Health.
Both planned parenthood and CHOICES are more than just abortion clinics, so other services like STD and HIV testing and treatment, and general reproductive health care will still be available if abortions are not legal.
Ashley Coffield, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and north Mississippi said the clinic will continue to provide abortions up until the very minute they can't do so legally. If abortions become illegal in Tennessee, they are prepared to send women out of state for legal abortions.
As of right now, Tennessee's trigger law would not penalize women for going out of state to get a legal abortion. Coffield said Illinois is the closest state ready to take Tennessee patients.
Abortion is still legal in all 50 states.
Current abortion laws in Tennessee include a 48-hour waiting period, banning the use of telehealth for abortion by pills and there are limits on when state and public insurance can cover abortion services.
With the decision to end a half-century guarantee of federal constitutional protection for abortions, it is automatically banned in at least 13 states including Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee because these states passed a trigger law.
Here's a breakdown of how it impacts the tri-state area.
Tennessee would have 30 days to officially have an abortion ban in place. If that happens it would become a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion, unless they can prove that the abortion was necessary to prevent a woman's death.
There are no exceptions for rape or incest, and women seeking abortions would not be prosecuted.
Mississippi's law states that within 10 days of the state attorney general confirming Roe v. Wade has been overturned, abortions are prohibited in the state. Limited exceptions are provided in cases of rape or when the procedure would preserve the mother's life.
Arkansas has a law that bans nearly all abortions now that Roe has been overturned, except for in the case of a life-threatening medical emergency. A medical provider who violates the law could face up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $100,000, or both.