Governor and district attorney at odds on abortion ban enforcement
“I’ve made it very, very clear from the beginning that as a policy matter I don’t think the criminal justice system should be used on matters such as reproductive rights,” --Steve Mulroy
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Human Life Protection Act, widely called Tennessee’s “trigger law,” goes into effect Thursday-- banning abortions across the state.
Governor Bill Lee was in Memphis Wednesday and re-affirmed his support of the new law.
“I think the most important thing is that we protect those lives, and that is how that bill was constructed,” Gov. Lee said.
While supporters tout the law’s ultimate protection of human life, abortion rights advocates say it will tie doctors’ hands and lead to women dying. That’s because doctors who perform any sort of abortion risk facing felony convictions, even though provisions allow for exceptions when a mother’s life is at stake.
“There really is no exception,” said Ashley Coffield, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi. “The law will make doctors second guess their medical training and expertise when choosing a treatment plan,” Coffield added.
Ultimately, the burden of proof falls on the physician and could result in a jury having to decide if the abortion was necessary to save the mother’s life.
“We expect the law to be followed,” Gov. Lee told Action News 5. The governor added, “we expect prosecutors and members of the legal profession and the justice system to follow the law in Tennessee.
However, Shelby County District Attorney-Elect Steve Mulroy joins other Democratic DA’s in Tennessee who say enforcing the new law will not be a top priority.
“I’ve made it very, very clear from the beginning that as a policy matter, I don’t think the criminal justice system should be used on matters such as reproductive rights,” Mulroy told Action News 5 Wednesday afternoon.
Regardless, the law will take effect statewide on Thursday. How it all plays out--still to be determined.
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