Anti-Choice Legislators Get Between Doctors and Patients

Tennessee family planning clinics face an uncertain future. A new anti-choice law that went into effect July 1st, 2015 requires all clinics that provide over 50 abortion services annually to become licensed as ambulatory surgical treatment centers and require patients to undergo a 48-hour waiting period after already receiving an in-person counseling by a physician. Two clinics in the state claimed that they were unable to obtain licenses in time to comply with the law, resulting in a temporary restraining order on the state by Judge Kevin Sharp.

The order was lifted on Monday by Sharp who observed that the clinics and licensing officials were working toward resolving the issue. However, the judge may revisit the order on account of concerns by the clinics’ attorneys. Physicians at the clinics feel uncomfortable practicing under these targeted regulations, as they fear prosecution from the state, which is known for its strong anti-choice stance.

Situations like these highlight the government overreach associated with anti-choice restrictions, also known as TRAP laws or Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers. Taxpayer dollars are wasted in legal battles and in regulation over a safe and legal medical procedure that is already subject to more intense scrutiny than any other area of medicine. Health care decisions should remain between the doctor and the patient. When laws force the government’s hand into these personal health care relationships they usurp the power from licensed medical professionals, and interfere with a doctor’s ability to provide their best medical judgment. In addition, arbitrary waiting periods place women in tough financial and transport situations in which they often cannot afford the time or the money to make two clinic visits. Some have to travel hundreds of miles just to meet for the consultation.

Tennessee is the only state advancing such anti-choice legislation. It’s no secret that these laws unduly target family planning facilities and associated entities while average hospitals and clinics are allowed to continue on without interference. Millions of taxpayer dollars are wasted defending anti-choice laws in the courts each year while millions of private, hard-earned dollars are wasted following them.

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