How a Supreme Court of the United States upcoming decision could affect Tennesseans

Bans off our bodies
Posted at 6:22 PM, Jun 14, 2022

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — In the next days or weeks, the Supreme Court of the United States is expected to release its decision on abortion rights, which could have a big impact on laws and future policy here in Tennessee.

SCOTUS is expected to issue its final ruling on a Mississippi abortion case, which could trigger the overturning of Roe v Wade. An unprecedented leak of the court's draft opinion early last month shows that may happen.

It would allow states to set their own abortion restrictions.

So what would that mean for abortion laws here in the state of Tennessee?

There are a number of different options, and they all depend on the language of the high court's opinion.

Some state lawmakers want to change abortion laws to restrict access more than it already is.

"The very specific language of that opinion could have ripple effects across the entire legal landscape," said Nashville Democratic Rep. John Ray Clemmons.

From lawmakers on all sides of the issue, there's a lot of anticipation about what the U.S. Supreme Court will do.

When it will happen is unclear.

However, NewsChannel5 Political Analyst Pat Nolan believes it will be soon.

"I do believe there will be more legislative action in the legislature," said Nolan. "After that ruling, I'm not sure how many more restrictions they can bring in Tennessee, but they may start looking in the contraception area or limiting people from going out of state."

State Republicans are hesitant to say whether it could be the trigger ban that passed back in 2019 or perhaps the state's heartbeat bill, which bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected.

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally said he would be in favor of Mississippi's abortion restrictions, which is the challenge the court is considering.

"After 16 weeks, abortions cannot be performed unless the health and the life of the mother is in danger. It's difficult to say without seeing the final Supreme Court decision what will happen. We hope that it will, at least the Mississippi law, will be upheld. We'll have to wait and see," said McNally.

Democratic lawmakers, such as Clemmons, believe that it could lead to legislation he feels is dangerous.

"We have a lot of laws in regards to abortion like the heartbeat bill, requiring ultrasound, requiring the woman to view the ultrasound prior to making a decision even if she is within six weeks of gestational age. All of these types of issues are on the table and up for legal review," he said.

How Tennessee's laws will conform to a ruling will eventually fall to Attorney General Herbert Slatery. His office said they're waiting to see what the court decides before commenting.