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Politicians used police force to keep public out of state legislature 

Tennessee to be first state to enact abortion ban since start of coronavirus in the U.S.

Nashville, TN — In an egregious move, the Tennessee legislature, in the dead of night and using police force to keep the public out of the Capitol building, passed a sweeping abortion ban. The bill, one of the most restrictive abortion bills in the country, bans abortion at nearly every stage of pregnancy, including before most people even know they’re pregnant. The bill also includes more medically unnecessary abortion restrictions and anti-science measures like forcing doctors to give patients the misinformation that they can reverse their abortion. It also bans abortion if the reason for the abortion is gender, race, or potential fetal diagnosis. Similar bans throughout the country have been struck down as unconstitutional.

Just last week, the Iowa legislature pulled a similar move — waiting until the wee hours of the night to pass a harmful bill against abortion access. It’s becoming the new shameful playbook for anti-abortion politicians who are willfully ignoring police violence and COVID-19, both public health crises disproportionately killing Black people. Following suit, Tennessee politicians have now passed a deeply racist and discriminatory bill which preys upon inaccurate and offensive stereotypes of communities of color, including Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, in order to ban abortion.

Furthermore, this bill will do nothing to address actual discrimination against women and girls, and instead would open the door to interfere with doctor-patient relationships, open and honest doctor-patient conversations, and a patient’s right to make private medical decisions.  

Each and every one of these bans are part of a coordinated strategy to overturn Roe v. Wade and ban abortion outright.

Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

“It is a disgrace that in the face of a true public health crisis, Tennessee politicians wasted their time with this last-minute move to attack abortion access before closing up shop this session. We know that the goal of the politicians behind this bill is simple: a total ban on safe, legal abortion. Politicians know that this bill is blatantly unconstitutional. And they don’t care. Amidst protests against police violence and fear around COVID-19, politicians are doubling down — pushing racist stereotypes and ignoring public health to ban abortion. But we won’t let them. We’re going to do everything in our power to fight back and stand up for reproductive freedom.”

Statement from Ashley Coffield, president & CEO, Planned Parenthood Tennessee and North Mississippi:

“What happened tonight flies in the face of democracy. In the dead of night, Tenessee politicians hellbent on chipping away at abortion access blocked citizens from entering the state Capitol while they used this draconian abortion ban to pass the state budget. While Tennesseans are concerned about their health and safety during a pandemic, politicians used women’s lives as a bargaining chip to push their political agenda. This comes after weeks of Senate leadership making public statements that they would not take up this bill.

“Gov. Lee already failed at trying to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic by banning abortion through an executive order, and now he is trying to use every restriction he can think of to strip patients of their reproductive rights. Tennessee is already grappling with a botched response by Gov. Lee to the pandemic, and the deep racial divide in the state that’s finally getting the attention it deserves. We’ll continue fighting these egregious attacks on our patients’ rights — no matter what.”


Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.