Analysis

Tennessee abortion facilities close or move as trigger law takes effect

closed abortion clinic

The trigger law protecting preborn children from abortion is set to take effect on August 25 in Tennessee, and abortion facilities will no longer be committing abortions as a result. Some of them, including CHOICES in Memphis, are closing down completely.

The Tennessee Lookout reported that the Knoxville Center for Reproductive Health is shutting their doors, while CHOICES will stop committing abortions at their Memphis location. The Bristol Regional Women’s Health Center will be relocating to Bristol, Virginia. Planned Parenthood and Carafem intend to remain open, but will also stop committing abortions.

CHOICES has been open for 48 years, and was the first abortion facility to open in Memphis. “It’s been a gut-punch. It’s a loss, and there is grief that comes with that,” CHOICES President and CEO Jennifer Pepper told the Tennessee Lookout. “The truth of the matter is there were never enough abortion clinics. There will not be enough access to meet the need. We’re already seeing (out-of-state) clinics booked out three to four weeks.”

Though Pepper complained about the supposed loss of her abortion facility, she isn’t shutting down completely; instead, she is relocating to Carbondale, Illinois, a college town located in a prime position to cater to women traveling from out of state.

READ: Tennessee’s ‘heartbeat law’ now in effect as appeals court lifts injunction

In Memphis, CHOICES will continue to operate a birth center and provide services like prenatal care, HIV testing, and gynecological services. They previously sought to build a children’s playground outside their abortion facility, and boasted of their model, which claimed to provide prenatal care and birthing services, while also committing abortions in the same building. Yet their annual report revealed that the majority of their services is abortion, which tends to be far more lucrative than helping a woman keep her baby. In 2021, they committed 3,893 abortions, while assisting with just 84 births.

This possibly could explain why Pepper is upset that they will not be committing abortions. “[T]his is where I want to be,” she said of Memphis. “This is the fight I want to keep fighting. And when abortion becomes legal in Tennessee again, we will be here.”

Editor’s Note: This post has been edited since original publication.

Alongside Tennessee, Texas and Idaho also have trigger laws set to take effect on August 25.

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