MEMPHIS, Tenn. — On Tuesday, Chief Justice John Roberts issued a statement confirming the Roe v. Wade decision draft leak, written by Justice Samuel Alito, is authentic. But, it is not the court's final decision.
However, if Roe is overturned, it could have significant changes for women across the Mid-South.
There are two abortion clinics in Shelby County, Planned Parenthood and Choices. According to the Tennesee 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.
If the decision is made to end a half-century guarantee of federal constitutional protection for abortions, then it would automatically be banned almost immediately in at least 13 states including Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee because states passed a trigger law.
Here's a breakdown of how it would impact 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.
Ashely Coffield, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Tennesee and North Mississippi said Tuesday in a press conference the clinic will continue to provide abortions up until the very minute they can't do so legally, and if abortions become illegal in Tennesee, they are prepared to send women out of state for legal abortions.
"For our patients in Memphis and Nashville, the most likely place for women to go is Illinois," Coffield said. "For our patients in East Tennessee, there are some political unknowns, but we hope they will be able to go to North Carolina, Virginia, and possibly Florida."
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 would ban nearly all abortions in the event that Roe is 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.
Right now, abortions are still legal in all 50 states.