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Tennessee vigorously defends decision to postpone surgical and invasive procedures that are elective and non-urgent, including elective surgical abortions

by | Apr 17, 2020

By Dave Andrusko

The description of the response was near universal. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office are “standing behind” Gov. Lee’s Executive Order 25 (signed April 8 and effective April 9) that placed a three-week ban on any medical procedures not necessary “to provide life-sustaining treatment, to prevent death or risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function, or to prevent rapid deterioration or serious adverse consequences to a patient’s physical condition.” 

That includes elective surgical abortions. “Medication” [chemical] abortions are not included.

The usual suspects–the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU-Tennessee—then filed a suit in  the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee in Nashville on Monday.  According to the Associated Press’ Travis Loller

The lawsuit charges Executive Order 25 “will operate as a complete ban on procedural (sometimes called ‘surgical’) abortions in the state for some women. For others, it will impose extreme burdens by forcing them to travel long distances (including out of state) in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, delaying their ability to access care for weeks (and potentially even longer), and exposing them to increased medical risk.”

In a response (Loller writes) filed late Wednesday

attorneys for the state argue that Lee’s order preserves personal protective equipment for emergency needs and prevents the community spread of COVID-19. The order is within the governor’s authority to protect the health and welfare of citizens, the filing states.

“Gov. Lee’s executive order seeks to preserve life-saving PPE and limit close contact procedures that are unsafe during the [COVID-19] pandemic,” said Gillum Ferguson, the governor’s interim press secretary. “Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit is an unfortunate distraction as we work to ensure our health care community has access to critical supplies during the fight against COVID-19.”

Categories: Abortion
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