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Tuesday, March 17, 2009


I found out yesterday that I have been mislead for the last few months. I was under the impression that Tennessee had an unconstitutional law on its books regarding abortion, namely the one that requires all second trimester abortions be done in a hospital. It was overturned in 2000 and is no longer enforceable.

I found this out after Rep. Armstrong's assistant contacted Planned Parenthood to find out for me. Planned Parenthood said some doctors may not be aware of the change in the law, and I wonder if that's what happened with us. Dr. McGowen is the one who told us about the law, and the fact is, she told us it had been a long time since she had had a patient diagnosed with a fatal prenatal disorder. The last one she had decided to carry to term. I don't blame her for not knowing.

However, when we got back home from Atlanta, I called an abortion clinic in Memphis. She said they only did abortions up to 14 weeks. When I asked why, she mentioned the law and said their doctors and nurses were afraid of being punished for doing so. If it's not against the law, how can the doctors and nurses get in trouble for doing so?

Finding this out has made me madder than ever before. For one, why aren't abortion clinics offering these services if they aren't against the law? Are they allowing the political climate to affect how they treat their patients, even when an abortion is the right health care choice for that woman? Since hospitals are using the political climate as an excuse, this severely limits a woman's health care choices, especially when it comes to a poor prenatal diagnosis.

Hospitals and clinics should do what is right for their patients, regardless of political climate, regardless of its board members' feelings on a procedure. Besides that, why should these board members know intimate details about a patient's health care choices? What happened to the right to privacy guaranteed under Roe vs. Wade? Besides, where does HIPPA come into play?

That reminds me of the doctor I talked to in Knoxville when we came home from Atlanta. They told me that each case has to be taken in front of the hospital's ethics board, which then decided whether or not a woman could terminate their pregnancy. She then said that since I didn't start out as a patient, the hospital probably wouldn't allow it, since it wasn't allowing very many as it was.

Today, I was thinking of a woman, a hypothetical one, in Knoxville, who has received a poor prenatal diagnosis of anacephaly. These babies have no chance of survival. She would have to stand in front of this board and present her story, not an easy feat, especially so soon after the diagnosis. I did it seven months later, and I barely made it through without breaking down. The members of the board would be able to decide the fate of her child, a child that is never going to make it anyway. Where is her right to privacy in making decisions regarding her health and the health of child? How dare they expect her to do that?

So, I'm going to have to change my stance on this. Since the law about second trimester abortions isn't enforceable anymore, I don't need to campaign against it. I think what I need to do is campaign for making clinics and hospitals perform abortions after 14 weeks in the cases of health of the mother, poor prenatal diagnosis and rape and incest.

In Tennessee, health of the mother and rape and incest are being taken into consideration in a lot of cases, but women with poor prenatal diagnosis are left out and forgotten. It's time for women who have gone through this in Tennessee to band together and speak out.

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