Davidson County DA says he won’t enforce Tennessee abortion law

Glenn Funk
Posted at 2:02 PM, Sep 24, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF/AP) — Davidson County District Attorney Glenn Funk said he won’t enforce Tennessee’s abortion law that requires women undergoing drug-induced abortions to be informed that the procedure can be reversed.

According to federal court documents filed on Wednesday, Funk called the law unconstitutional and said, “the criminal law must not be used by the State to exercise control over a woman's body.”

“As long as I am the elected District Attorney for the 20th Judicial District, I will not prosecute any woman who chooses to have a medical procedure to terminate a pregnancy or any medical doctor who performs this procedure at the request of their patient. Further, I will not prosecute or sanction an abortion provider who states, verbally and/or in writing disagreement with the disclosures required by the Legislature which are subject to this lawsuit,” Funk said in the filing.

The state’s abortion law – one of the nation’s most restrictive – focuses mainly on banning abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is about six weeks into pregnancy, before many women know they’re pregnant.

However, also tucked in the 38-page law is a requirement that doctors must inform women that drug-induced abortions may be halted halfway. Medical groups say the claim isn’t backed up by science and there is little information about the reversal procedure’s safety.

Those who fail to comply with the law, which doesn’t go into effect until Oct. 1, will face a Class E felony, punishable by up to six years in prison.

In August, abortion rights groups sued in effort to prevent that requirement from being implemented. Funk and other district attorneys were named in the suit because they prosecute criminal cases.

Gov. Bill Lee has promised to do “whatever it takes in court” to defend the law.

The group Tennessee Right to Life responded to General Funk's decision with the following statement:

“We are disappointed that General Funk is failing to uphold his elected duty to prosecute violations of the laws of Tennessee. Women deserve to know every option available to them and, if abortionists are violating the law by not informing their patients of the abortion pill reversal method, then district attorneys across the state should be ready and willing to enforce this law and prosecute those providers. After all, pro-choice should mean getting a choice in the first place.”

Hedy Weinberg, ACLU of Tennessee executive director released the following statement:

"We are pleased that General Funk is exercising his discretion as a prosecutor and declining to prosecute abortion regulations. However, the attorney general, Governor Lee, state legislators and other officials continue to relentlessly attack abortion providers. The bottom line is that this unconstitutional law forces physicians to provide false and misleading information to their patients and it needs to be struck down."