Abortion Resources for Physicians

Tennessee’s 2019 trigger law (TN SB 1257 and now Public Chapter Number 351) took effect on Aug. 25, 2022, as scheduled 30 days after the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the longstanding Roe v. Wade.

Performing or attempting to perform an abortion procedure is now criminalized in Tennessee with limited exceptions for cases where it is necessary to prevent death or serious and permanent bodily injury to the mother. The law provides no exceptions for cases of incest or rape. Previously, a six-week ban was in effect.

What Physicians Need to Know About the Tennessee Law

  • Doctors who perform or attempt to perform an abortion for a patient outside the limited exceptions outlined in statute will be charged with a Class C Felony and, upon conviction, could be fined up to $50,000, be imprisoned for a term not to exceed 20 years, or potentially both.
  • Physicians will not be found in violation of the law if accidental death of or unintentional injury to an unborn child occurs during prenatal care.
  • Medication may be prescribed only in the physical presence of a physician after an in-person examination within the first six weeks of pregnancy. Access to abortion medication via telemedicine is prohibited.
  • There are no current prohibitions on contraceptives.
  • Women who receive or solicit an illegal abortion are not subject to criminal conviction or penalty.

Legal Resources

The post-Roe environment has created a myriad of legal questions for the medical community as states pass new legislation or modify existing statute without a federal standard. TNAFP encourages members to seek professional legal counsel if or when a patient care situation could expose them to legal risks.

These providers are general resources from AAFP who may be able to offer advice in this area. AAFP and TNAFP have no contractual or other relationship with any of these entities and make no endorsement or guarantee of their services. TNAFP encourages physician members to perform their own due diligence and exercise discretion when seeking legal counsel or advice based on their own individual needs, budgets, and other considerations.

The Bar Association of San Francisco – Legal Alliance for Reproductive Rights is a volunteer effort that began in June 2022 with more than 20 law firms to provide free legal services including advising medical professionals on policies relating to HIPAA and cooperation with private litigants or law enforcement. 415-875-7076 | larrreferrals@sfbar.org

Hooper, Lundy & Bookman is a law firm that has established a Reproductive Health Practice Group. The firm may charge for its legal services.

Share Your Story

AAFP is looking for real-world examples of how the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision has affected doctors and patients. Share your stories and comments from the trenches so it can be relayed to policymakers in Washington, DC.

Other Resources

Advocacy Focus: Reproductive Care

with state-by-state policy overview, federal guidance, and summary
of national advocacy efforts

Post-Dobbs Considerations for Healthcare Providers

Navigating State Restrictions on Abortion, Within
and Across State Lines (Manatt Health)