Nashville's Planned Parenthood, the city's only abortion provider, has temporarily suspended abortion services, potentially leaving thousands of women without access to care. The clinic in north Nashville serves patients in rural parts of Tennessee as well as people neighbouring states like Mississippi and Alabama.
"Just like other health care providers, PPTNM periodically experiences changes in staff, and we are currently taking the next several weeks to fully orient and train new team members," Ashley Coffield, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Memphis, said in a statement on the organization's website. "We expect to resume abortion services at this location next month. Our patients are our number one priority, so it is vital we provide them with high quality and safe care."
While the suspension is temporary and the centre will remain open for all other services, it will undoubtedly place an undue burden on those seeking an abortion, as the nearest providers are hundreds of miles away in Knoxville and Memphis. In Tennessee, women must receive in-person counseling, which is designed to discourage them from going through with the abortion, then wait 48 hours before undergoing the procedure — which essentially calls for multiple trips to the clinic.
The state has only six abortion providers. By comparison, Tennessee has more than 100 crisis pregnancy centres, which often appear to provide abortion services, but in reality are designed to encourage women to not have the procedure at all. USA Today reported that Tennessee Right To Life, which is anti-abortion organization, has been receiving an uptick in calls from women who were seeking abortions in Nashville.
In a statement to Refinery29, Brian Harris, president of Tennessee Right To Life's board, said, "Because Tennessee Right to Life is an advocacy organization and not a social service provider, we act as a referral point to the 50 pregnancy resource centres around the state, numerous adoption agencies and the more than 60 federally qualified health centres in Tennessee. These clinics provide comprehensive health care services and are accessible to women, girls and families throughout the state without promoting or providing abortions."