NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — State Sen. Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City) said the state’s abortion ban may need to be “fine-tuned.”
While speaking during a subcommittee meeting in Nashville on Wednesday, Crowe said some doctors, hospitals and groups like the Tennessee Medical Association have reached out to him with concerns about the law, which is set to go into effect in mid-August. Once it does, anyone who performs or attempts to perform an abortion can be charged with a Class C felony.
The so-called trigger ban makes no exceptions for rape, incest or sex trafficking. It does create an “affirmative defense to prosecution” if an abortion “was necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman or to prevent serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.”
Crowe, who chairs the Health and Welfare Committee, said medical professionals and organizations want the law to be clearer “to make sure that we don’t get our docs in trouble when they’re trying to follow the law.”
“There are some groups getting together now to look at it in a very prudent way, just to make sure we don’t get our docs in a situation wherein they think they’re doing the right thing and possibly they’re not,” Crowe said. “So, there will be some fine-tuning, as we normally do, you know, with different bills. But I think that we all know what the intent Tennessee has with that bill, but let’s make sure we do it in a way that we don’t get some of our docs in trouble.”
The trigger ban was passed by the General Assembly in 2019. Crowe was among several senators who co-sponsored the bill, which would ban abortions in the state in event that the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
While the trigger law is expected to go into effect next month, a federal court has allowed another Tennessee law to go into effect that bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected.
A Vanderbilt University poll conducted in the spring showed that 80% of Tennessee voters were OK with abortion being either completely legal or legal under certain circumstances, such as rape or incest.