• Brad Keating

Is Abortion Legal In Tennessee?

The short answer is yes. Abortion is legal in Tennessee. However, there are some restrictions you have to take into account to see if you are admissible to get an abortion.


Many people get confused because laws change depending on the state you are in. Even if you don't want to get an abortion, understanding how the abortion laws work in your state helps you if a loved one or someone close to you needs to get one in the future.


Those restrictions have been debated by people who want abortion to be completely legal and without restrictions. Those groups are commonly called "pro-choice" organizations. The Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee said that he doesn't plan to pass an abortion law.


Regardless of that, two senators tried to pass a law a while ago to limit abortion rights and give fathers veto power over a woman's abortion. The moral debate regarding abortion doesn't seem to be close to an end. That's the reason many groups supporting free abortion for all women have constant arguments with lawmakers who want to restrict it.


The information explained in this article has nothing to do with that, though. This page only has data about how abortion laws work at the moment. That means we don't give any opinion about moral debates or something related to it. However, you can read the opinions of lawmakers and groups defending reproductive rights on this page.


We want you to understand everything you need to know about the abortion law in Tennessee. That can help you if you or a loved one gets involved in an abortion case and need to go to court. Keep reading this page if you want to learn more things about abortion in Tennessee.


About the tennessee abortion law


About the Tennessee Abortion Law


As we mentioned before, abortion is legal in Tennessee. However, that doesn't make it legal for women to have abortions at all times. Some limitations restrict abortions and abortion providers. Some state lawmakers have tried to add more abortion restrictions, but nothing has happened so far.


Abortion rights in Tennessee allow you to have an abortion until the fetus is viable. Having an abortion after that represents a class c felony. That means women can ask for abortion services within the first 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy. However, this has nothing to do with the fetal heartbeat law used in other states.


That law establishes that women can't have an abortion if doctors notice the fetus heartbeat while making an ultrasound test. Some other states have different restrictions or allow women other reproductive rights. Yet, abortion rights have gone through many legal challenges since these procedures became legal.


The State Gov. Bill Lee has signed many bills that aim to add more abortion restrictions to the current legislation. However, the most important bills passed by lawmakers with that goal have been turned down or put on hold by a federal court. That's because the court sometimes considers those bills unconstitutional.


Abortion Restrictions


Even if abortion rights in Tennessee don't have some restrictions, such as the fetal heartbeat law, there are some things you should consider when learning all there is to know about the abortion procedure.


The restrictions listed below have some exceptions that allow women to have abortions even if they wouldn't have been able to have them in another situation. The most common exception is the one related to the medical conditions of the woman having the abortion. If that procedure could save her life, it's legal to do it.


We want to help you understand everything in a better way, so here are the abortion restrictions in Tennessee:


Medication Abortion

It is completely illegal to consume any kind of pill or serum that could cause women to have abortions. That's called medication abortion. Because of that, nurses and doctors can't prescribe that kind of medication to their patients. Doing it would be considered an illegal abortion.


The only way in which a woman can have an abortion is through surgical procedures at an abortion clinic. Apart from that, abortion can only be done if the clinic or hospital meets all the legal requirements stated by the law.


That means any kind of abortion that is not done at a legitimate abortion clinic is illegal. Considering that, you can't have abortions at home or independent health care centers. The best you can do if you need to get an abortion is do everything by the book to avoid problems with the law.


Class c felonies can represent 15 to 20 years in jail, so you shouldn't do anything that dangerous.


Time of Pregnancy

As we mentioned before, women can't pay for abortion services if the fetus is viable. Apart from that, they have to go through an ultrasound test and see images of the unborn child before having an abortion procedure. Considering that, women have 24 to 28 weeks to have an abortion. Those weeks are counted since the moment they got pregnant.


Some Tennessee lawmakers wanted to implement a six-week ban for abortions. However, this law wasn't admitted by the Tennessee General Assembly. There are some exceptions in case the woman's life is in danger. However, those exceptions don't apply to rape or incest cases.


Women's Age

The woman's consent is enough for health care providers to do an abortion if the woman asking for it is 18 years old or older. Women who are still underaged need written parent consent to have an abortion. That written consent needs to go through a court to be admitted.


Regardless of that, any woman under 18 years old who wants to get an abortion only needs the consent of one parent, depending on if they have custody. There are no exceptions of any kind even in cases of rape or incest. The only case in which parental consent can be waived is if the parent was the one who abused the pregnant person or if the woman has the judge's permission to have an abortion.


It's not common to see a judge giving an underaged woman permission to have an abortion without parental consent. However, there are some cases in which it can happen.


Cause of Abortion

Abortions are not admissible if the woman paying for the abortion wants it because of a prenatal diagnosis or the gender of the unborn child.


That means abortions because of a genetic anomaly, physical disorder, down syndrome, or any other health issue are considered illegal abortions. The only case in which abortions are admissible in the cases named before is when the woman's life is in danger or because of a medical emergency.


This restriction is applied because a significant number of abortions are made. After all, a prenatal diagnosis shows that the fetus may develop down syndrome. That's one of the reasons women need to be shown pictures of the ultrasound of their unborn child before having an abortion or even asking for one.


Funding and Abortion Insurance

Hospitals can't pay for an abortion or offer free abortions to their patients. Abortion facilities can offer health plans for women to make periodic payments to pay for their abortions. There are some exceptions in the Tennessee law that let you ask for public funding, though.


As it happens with other abortion restrictions, making exceptions is legal when there's an emergency that puts the woman's life in danger. Abortion rights groups constantly protest to give free abortion access to all women, but there's not a law that makes that legal yet.


What Have the Supreme Court Stated About Abortion?


The abortion laws in the U.S are based on the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court's decision. That settlement stated that women have the right to have an abortion at least for the first trimester of pregnancy. Roe v. Wade also establishes that other states can't limit the abortion or reproductive rights of women.


Considering that, even if Tennessee lawmakers want to pass a bill that bans abortions, that bill can only become valid if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Many Senators have sought a near-total abortion ban for years.


They do that by passing bills to Congress and trying to convince people having an abortion is wrong. However, more than a legal thing, everything mostly turns out to be an abortion moral debate. The Supreme Court hasn't shown any sign of intending to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision. State legislatures can have independent restrictions, though. Yet, the Volunteer State can't pass unconstitutional new legislation.


One of the most significant bills adding restrictions to abortions is the one that makes having an abortion illegal if a fetal heartbeat is detected. That's because many women want to have abortions at the late stages of pregnancy when the fetus is already viable.


That restriction is not applied in Tennessee, though. However, you can't have an abortion if the fetus is already viable regardless if there's a heartbeat or not. Tennessee only allows abortion centers to do abortions in the early stages of pregnancy. That gives women a limit of 24 to 28 weeks since they got pregnant.


Are All Abortion Providers Legal?


You could say abortion providers are completely legal according to the state constitution. However, organizations and entities, such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood, argue that there are far too many restrictions imposed on abortion clinics. That's because a physician needs to meet some requirements to be able to do legal abortions.


Even private physicians' offices have tons of administrative duties if they want to treat a pregnant person. For starters, these offices must have admitting privileges at a hospital. That's because abortion clinics need to adapt their facilities to resemble a mini-hospital that can receive regular patients.


The problem with that is that abortion clinics don't need that equipment to work. Yet, physicians need to have it to do abortions there. That's one of the legal challenges that the state constitution imposes on abortion providers. Apart from that, nothing gives hospitals the obligation to have an abortion clinic.


Because of that, hospitals with physicians' offices can only practice abortions if they are considered ambulatory surgical centers on the records. However, exceptions can be made if a court order permits a hospital to do that. There are not many abortion clinics in Tennessee, though.


The number of abortion centers in Tennessee has significantly decreased over the past years. Naturally, that made the legal abortion rate in the state go down. There are currently four abortion clinics in Tennessee. That includes the Planned Parenthood facilities, which allow physicians to use them for abortion procedures.


Other states have more severe laws regarding abortion providers. An example of that is the Texas law, which allows and encourages private citizens to sue abortion facilities that do abortions without meeting the law requirements.


Illegal abort lawsuits can be worth thousands of dollars. That's the reason there are fewer abortion centers each year. Tennessee used to have hundreds of them around the state. However, there are only four active today.


If you have been injured or harmed by a botched abortion, a personal injury law office can help you to file an injury claim.


What Do Citizens and Tennessee Lawmakers Have to Say About Abortion?


Many Senators and lawmakers try to pass bills that add more abortion restrictions in the state law. However, abortion-rights groups such as Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union have had oral arguments with such lawmakers. That's because these groups say that the Tennessee Bill bans abortions by adding too many restrictions to it.


People who have an abortion debate can have several reasons to defend their opinion. AP News showed stats that prove that states with restrictions such as the one that doesn't allow women to have abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected don't have many sex education programs. That directly affects the abortion rate in the state.


The Texas law is one of the laws that impose more restrictions on pregnant women. An example of that is the restraint that makes it illegal to have an abortion at an early gestational age. However, there are more limitations, such as the fetal heartbeat bill.


Citizens that agree with the Texas law argue that the Supreme Court should overturn the Roe v. Wade decision. Several bills trying to restrict abortion centers were issued this year. Regardless of that, a lower Federal Court turned it down.


Planned Parenthood states that not allowing women to have an abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected is unconstitutional. Apart from that, it argues that gestational age should not be a problem in cases of rape or incest. Companies that want to give public funding to women who want to end their pregnancy agree with that.


How much does an abortion cost in Tennessee

How Much Does an Abortion Cost in Tennessee?


Neither Tenncare nor insurance companies can cover abortion costs. That's because the law states that abortions can't be done for free, and women have to pay to get them. Abortion costs vary depending on your state, location, the pregnancy stage you are in, and the clinic you decide to visit.


The most inexpensive abortions cost $250 or more. Most clinics charge patients $275 for abortions if the procedure is not that complex and if the woman is at an early pregnancy stage. That doesn't mean abortion prices can't go higher than that, though. Expensive abortion services can cost thousands of dollars.


Private abortion clinics may ask you to pay $500 upfront. That happens if you go to a clinic in an urban zone that offers you some other benefits. Those benefits can include a hospital room to stay in for some days after you get an abortion.


Planned Parenthood procedures cost between $400 and $15,000. As we mentioned before, everything depends on how complicated it's for physicians to do an abortion. These services are not inexpensive, so many people can't afford them.


That's the reason many groups and organizations ask for public funding for women who need to have legal abortions. The problem with that is that you can only ask for public funding if you need to get an abortion due to a medical condition.


Wrapping Up


Abortions are a delicate topic regardless of the state you live in. It's always a good idea to know how the laws in your city work. That allows you to enjoy fully take advantage of your constitutional rights and use the legal resources available for you. However, this article focuses on the Tennessee constitution.


We understand that learning there is to know about the abortion Tennessee bill is no easy task. Fortunately, we are here to help you! You can read our articles any time you need to know more law-related things. Keep in mind that everything can change if the Tennessee Supreme Court takes a sudden decision.


Women can legally get abortions in Tennessee. Regardless of the moral debate about the human life of an unborn child, the Supreme Court tries to respect women's reproductive rights as much as possible. Even if restrictions in other states, such as the so-called heartbeat bill, complicate the process, the abortion rate hasn't decreased that much.


State lawmakers constantly try to pass bills that represent an abortion ban, so make sure to stay tuned to what the Tennessee House and Gov. Bill Lee have to say about this topic.