Tennessee’s Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed legislation Thursday making it a crime for people to get abortion pills through the mail.
“A qualified physician providing an abortion-inducing drug must examine the patient in-person and, prior to providing an abortion-inducing drug verify and determine certain information, as specified in this bill, and inform the patient that the patient may see the remains of the unborn child in the process of completing the abortion,” Nashville News Channel 5 TV reported the new law states.
The regulation, set to go into effect January 1, 2023, would make receiving a pill that would induce an abortion through the mail delivery service a Class E felony in the state with the potential for a monetary fine, according to the news outlet.
An initial version of the bill included up to a 20-year prison sentence that was since removed by amendment.
The restriction still allows for a doctor to give a patient one of these medications as long as they personally examine and treat them.
“Medication abortion by mail and telehealth was already banned in Tennessee; this new law, which increases penalties, is nothing more than a ploy by Gov. Lee to gain attention in this fraught moment,” Planned Parenthood president and CEO of the Tennessee and North Mississippi chapter Ashley Coffield said in a statement to the station Friday.
A medical doctor told the station that the new law would put pregnant women with the potential for risky complications in further danger.
“Someone who has an ectopic pregnancy, which is a pregnancy that has implanted itself outside of the uterus, this medication is something that, we as healthcare providers, would prescribe early on in that ectopic, to prevent that woman from having life threatening hemorrhaging and dying,” Dr. Katrina Green told the station. “So, taking this option away could lead to deaths here in Tennessee.”
The state also has a variety of abortion restriction laws planned should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion legal throughout the country.
On Monday night, Politico reported a leaked draft of the court’s opinion on the case that signaled it would reverse the 50-year-old precedent, and a related 1992 case upholding the right to abortion and send decisions about abortion’s legality back to the states to determine.
On Tuesday, Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the authenticity of the draft reported by Politico, but said the decision was not yet final and could change before a final decision is announced, CNBC reported.
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