NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — “No. I didn’t see this in my future at all.”
A future with no abortion protections is one Dr. Laura Andreson is now living in.
“I remember going down to the capital…to the press conference and just realizing the brevity of what was happening,” she said. “That the care was truly being compromised.”
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On Aug. 25, 2022, Tennessee officially enforced a trigger law prohibiting abortions across the state.
“Our focus is on implementing that law,” said Gov. Bill Lee. “It’s a hopeful day in our country I believe as we protect the lives of the unborn.”
Andreson works as an obstetrician in Franklin where she sees ectopic pregnancies multiple times a week.
“I remember coming home the first day I officially committed a felony and that’s a really odd thing as a physician,” she said. “To realize that providing care to a patient for a condition that could ultimately kill them could lead to me being charged with a Class C felony.”
CEO of Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi, Ashley Coffield, said over the past year they’ve spent close to $100,000 providing financial assistance to nearly 600 people trying to get an abortion out of state.
“We are focusing on advocacy and activism like we’ve never had before and people have really stepped up to support us and our allies in the fight,” Coffield said.
Lee did sign a narrow exemption in place helping doctors in April 2023.
The exemption allows doctors to use ‘reasonable medical judgment’ when determining if an abortion is necessary.
Tyler Yarbro is an attorney and also the chair of the Tennessee Freedom Circle, a group of lawyers prepared to protect and advance reproductive freedom. Yarbro says while the exemption is helpful it still needs improvement to help doctors legally.
“You can follow the rules, but when the rules aren’t clear or when the rules require you to wait so long before providing care things may go tragically wrong for patients or a physician may end up in criminal trouble,” Yarbro said.
Despite the exemption, Andreson still worries about her and her patients’ future in Tennessee.
“I’ve sacrificed so much to be a physician and I love my career, but it’s very difficult to foresee being able to last long term in a place where you’re so…you’re just looked at as someone who is the enemy,” she said.