PP Nashville

Planned Parenthood's Nashville location. 

Planned Parenthood of Middle Tennessee and Northern Mississippi announced Tuesday that it would no longer offer abortion services.

The announcement came immediately after the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals lifted an injunction on a Tennessee law banning abortions after around six weeks of gestation, when fetal cardiovascular activity can typically be detected.

Gov. Bill Lee and other Republican leaders and pro-life advocacy organizations cheered the court decision. 

The appeals court’s decision comes four days after the U.S. Supreme Court released its ruling that effectively overturned Roe v. Wade and at least 30 days before a near-complete ban on abortion is set to hit Tennessee. Attorney General Herbert Slatery said he will notify the Tennessee Code Commission to start the clock on the 30-day waiting period for Tennessee’s trigger law when the Supreme Court issues its judgment in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which is expected to occur no later than mid-July, according to a statement. When it is expected to go into effect around mid-August, the stricter Human Life Protection Act, which bans abortion in nearly all cases, would take precedence over the six-week ban. States including Louisiana and Utah have seen their trigger laws blocked in state courts in recent days. 

The six-week ban had been tied up in the court system since it passed in 2020 after organizations including Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee immediately filed suit against the state. Slatery’s office filed an emergency motion Friday urging the federal appeals court to allow the law to take effect. 

While Planned Parenthood had already stopped booking appointments past July 1, CEO Ashley Coffield said Tuesday the organization expected to have at least a few more days of offering abortion services. Instead, providers performed their last abortion procedures Monday after a planned closing Friday in Nashville due to staffing shortages. 

“This decision was not made lightly, and it's due to Tennessee's legal landscape, which is extremely hostile to abortion access,” said Coffield.

The Bristol Regional Women’s Center in Bristol, Tennessee, has opted to move across the state line to sister city Bristol, Virginia, to be able to continue offering abortions. 

Coffield said the organization predicts 30,000 additional abortion patients in Middle Tennessee will look to Illinois, where abortion is still legal, for treatment. She reiterated that the organization has hired navigators to help people connect to abortion providers out of state. 

“We don't want finances to stand in the way of anybody accessing abortion services, either finances or logistical issues that a patient may face,” Coffield said. “Our navigator will help you work through those issues and get financial support. It might be in the form of a gas card. It might be in the form of support for overnight accommodations or more.”

Anti-abortion advocates from Tennessee Right to Life said last week that they planned to make it more difficult for people to seek abortions in states where the procedure remains legal, including by working to prevent employers from paying for employees’ travel and other costs. 

Planned Parenthood is seeing an influx of family planning patients, including a full schedule on Tuesday and Wednesday in Nashville, Coffield said. The organization’s existing services include birth control, sexually transmitted infection treatment, cancer screenings, immunizations and gender-affirming hormone care.