Tennessee Is Endangering Its Women

Women will die because of Tennessee’s abortion ban. Women with wanted pregnancies will die because doctors will be afraid to provide abortions to treat life-threatening complications. Women with unwanted pregnancies will die because they’ll get the unsafe abortions they can afford to get. Women will also lose their lives in other ways—trapped in dead-end jobs, grinding poverty, or abusive relationships. As a member of the State House, I will push to restore the human rights of women in Tennessee, and I will work with organizations like A Step Ahead Chattanooga to mitigate the effects of this dangerous legislation.

Reducing abortion rates is a worthy goal. No woman “likes” abortions. No woman would choose to go through such an intensely invasive medical process unless she knew it was the best option for her.

Fortunately, we can significantly reduce abortion rates by reducing the primary reason for abortion: unwanted pregnancies. Science-based sex education and easily available birth control are two of the best tools for reducing abortion rates. If our Republican state leaders were really interested in saving lives—born and unborn—they would have invested in these evidence-based preventive measures.

Instead they jumped right to stripping half the state’s population of their bodily autonomy, recklessly disregarding the real dangers women will face as a result. At the very least, Tennessee’s trigger law reveals stunning ignorance about women’s reproductive health.

My oldest daughter is a doctor. Several years ago, when she was a medical student doing her OB-GYN rotation in Memphis, I asked her how often she saw pregnancy threaten the life or health of the mother.


“Every day,” she said.

Until that clinical rotation, she said, she hadn’t realized how medically fragile an otherwise healthy woman becomes just by virtue of being pregnant. If the woman has other health conditions, like high blood pressure or diabetes—Tennessee has high levels of both—her risk of serious complications is high.

Most of those complications become apparent well after the six-week deadline set by Tennessee’s “heartbeat” bill. When a law prevents a person from making a medical decision based on their doctor’s best advice, that law is actively endangering them. Any politician who doesn’t understand that doesn’t have the wisdom to be making laws about pregnant people.

When a law forces a child to carry her uncle’s baby to term, or makes a rape victim carry her rapist’s baby to term, or makes a person carry a pregnancy for 40 weeks when the baby inside her is dead or has a medical condition that’s incompatible with life outside the womb, that law is cruel. Any politician who doesn’t understand that doesn’t have the compassion to be making laws about pregnant people.

Most Tennesseans disagree with our state’s abortion ban. As a member of the Tennessee House, I’ll work hard to overturn it.