A bill that would require women to wait 48 hours between seeing a doctor and undergoing an abortion is headed to the desk of Tennessee's Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, who is expected to approve and sign it. It is accompanied by a second bill that places new regulations on abortion clinics that critics of the bill say would force women’s health clinics to shut down.
The Tennessee Legislature has approved both bills, although the bill to impose a waiting period has to return to the Senate for approval of an amendment before the governor can sign it. Haslam has previously said he was “comfortable with the direction those bills were going in,” the Tennessean reported Tuesday.
Democrats in the Tennessee House of Representatives fought the measures, both of which ultimately passed by wide margins -- 79-17 for clinic restrictions and 79-18 for the waiting period. Republican proponents claimed the bills would protect women’s health. The measures passed the Senate last week.
The measure that imposes stricter regulations on abortion clinics would consider them to be outpatient surgery centers -- and thus require them to meet the same standards as those centers. In other words, the buildings in which some abortion providers operate would be subject to more regulations. The legislation would affect all seven of Tennessee’s abortion clinics, the Associated Press reported.
The other measure, which would require a 48-hour waiting period between when a woman speaks to a doctor and when she undergoes an abortion, would thus require her to make two trips to a clinic.
The anti-abortion group Tennessee Right to Life said the legislation would “reduce coerced abortions and abortion on demand.” The American Civil Liberties Union criticized the bills, warning they would “[restrict] access to safe, legal abortion” and target abortion clinics for “expensive, medically unnecessary building renovations.”