Tennessee Omnibus Abortion Ban Bill (HB 2263)
This law was last updated on Sep 3, 2020
HB 2263 bans abortions when the fetus has a detectable heartbeat, which usually happens at six weeks. The bill also prohibits physicians from performing an abortion if they know the patient is seeking an abortion because of the sex or race of the fetus, or because the fetus is likely to be born with Down syndrome.
While the bill has an exception for cases where the woman’s life is in danger, it does not provide an exception for cases of rape or incest. The bill also removes the ability for a juvenile in Department of Child Services custody from being able to petition a judge to get an abortion.
Except in medical emergencies, a physician cannot perform a chemical abortion unless the pregnant patient is informed at least 48-hours before the procedure that the procedure is reversible if the patient doesn’t take the second dose. The abortion provider must also direct the patient to information on abortion reversal posted on the the state department of health website. The state will also make information about abortion reversal available in every language spoken by at least 2 percent of the state’s population.
The father of the fetus that is subject to a chemical abortion or the parent of the pregnant patient (if the patient is under age 18) can bring an action against the abortion provider for violating this act and seek both actual and punitive damages. The plaintiff may be able to recover attorneys’ fees.
In addition, clinics must post signage regarding abortion reversal for drug induced procedures. The sign should state that a chemical abortion can be reversed if the second mifepristone pill is not taken. Failure to post such signage comes with a $10,000 fine. Violation of this section alone constitutes a Class E felony.
Criminal Liability for Physicians
The bill also increases penalties of physicians who perform an abortion in violation of this act, making it a class C felony to perform an abortion under any of the aforementioned circumstances.
The physician must also conduct an ultrasound and show the images to the patient, though if the patient declines, the physician must honor that request. In addition, the physician must record in the patient’s medical history, presence or absence of a fetal heartbeat, method used to test the heartbeat, and estimated gestation age of the fetus.
If this bill is struck down in court, it automatically enacts bans against abortion at 8, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, and 24 weeks of gestation.
American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the ACLU of Tennessee filed suit on June 19, 2020 seeking an injunction to stop the bill from becoming law and declaratory judgment that the bill is unconstitutional.
The bill was signed into law by Gov. Bill Lee on July 13, 2020 and became effective immediately, but was quickly blocked by a federal judge that same day.