KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — In May, people in Tennessee and across the nation were discussing what could happen if Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision which guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights, was overturned. On June 24, the Supreme Court overturned it.
On May 1, a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion written in February was published by Politico. The 67-page document, described as an initial draft majority opinion, would effectively eliminate abortion protections at the Federal level and would hand off authority over abortion access to individual states.
Tennessee lawmakers are divided on this issue.
Now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, Tennessee lawmakers are explaining what this could mean for our state. Tennessee is one of several states that have “trigger laws” which would immediately ban all or most abortions if Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court.
Gloria Johnson, State Representative for District 13 (D), said, “Governor Lee has no business making private health care decisions for Tennesseans.”
Representative Jason Zachary (R) stated, “the conservative movement has been very passionate about being a voice for the voiceless and defending the unborn and there’s a real sense of hope with the possibility of this being overturned.”
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have strong opinions on how this may be handled within our state.
Johnson stated, “we know that we will never stop abortions, but what we will do is stop safe abortions.”
She adds, “what I want to see here in Tennessee is for them to keep abortion rights.”
Zachary explained, “it should have always been a state’s issue the supreme court in 1973 took that right away from the state. Each state should be able to make their own individual decisions as we do with so many other issues.”
Governor Bill Lee signed a Heartbeat Bill into law in 2020 that would ban abortions after 6 weeks.
A federal judge temporarily blocked it from taking effect shortly after it was passed.
Reproductive health care centers in Tennessee like Planned Parenthood are following the case saying they will do everything they can to protect women’s reproductive rights.
Ashley Coffield the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi said, “while our politicians are divided on this issue, a clear majority of Americans believe that the government should stay out of private medical decisions, and many in our region will be shocked and outraged by this decision if it stands.”
Tennessee Right To Life – Knox County Chapter told us they will wait until the official opinion is handed down before releasing a full statement.
As written, the draft would also overturn Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
Chief Justice John Roberts on Tuesday confirmed the authenticity of a leaked draft opinion but emphasized it does not represent the court’s final opinion. “Although the document described in yesterday’s reports is authentic, it does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case”
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated after the Supreme Court on Friday, June 24, 2022 overturned Roe v. Wade.