Tennessee Doctors Call for Repeal of State's Abortion Ban

Advocate Andy

Advocacy group says new law is harming patients and families

Tennessee is now one month into a near-total ban on abortion triggered by the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision, and physicians and patients are highlighting the harms the new law is causing.

Dr. Deva Sharma, a board-certified physician in Internal Medicine, Hematology, Oncology and Transfusion Medicine practicing in Nashville, is the mother of 3 children, the youngest born just 2 weeks ago.  Because she completed her medical training in 3 specialties at age 37, she delayed starting her family.  “My last pregnancy was a higher risk pregnancy due to my advanced maternal age,” said Dr. Sharma. “Additionally, I was given bad news about the health of my baby, including a chromosomal abnormality and a placental tumor, which were suspected in the earlier stages of my pregnancy. Fortunately, an amniocentesis and serial ultrasounds confirmed that these were false positive results, and my baby was born healthy at full term,” explained Dr. Sharma.

Dr. Sharma further explained that had this placental tumor and chromosomal abnormality actually been present, this would have placed her baby at high risk of fetal demise and an indicated delivery to save her life.  “As a physician to patients whom I care about deeply, a mother of 3 beautiful children, wife to a loving husband, and sister to a kind-hearted brother, I have so much to live for. It scares me to think that the current abortion trigger ban could have jeopardized my life, had my fate been different with this last pregnancy. Ironically, the Tennessee Human Life Protection Act endangers the lives of women and negatively impacts their families and communities. This is anything but a Life Protection Act.”

Ms. Laquita Martin, mother of 1 adult child described her pregnancy termination 24 years ago, due to a fetal anomaly. “After 10 years of marriage, one child and 4 miscarriages, my husband and I began assisted fertility treatments.  It took 4 rounds, and we were thrilled to be expecting again,” said Ms. Martin. 

At 19 weeks of pregnancy, her doctor recommended a routine ultrasound. The perinatologist who performed the ultrasound explained that they had detected two heart defects on the ultrasound that were incompatible with life outside the womb and referred them to a pediatric cardiologist.  “My husband and I were in shock but somehow managed to drive to the second office,” continued Ms. Martin. “After further testing, the pediatric cardiologist explained there were actually three heart defects.   Although one could possibly be corrected, the other two could only be treated by a heart transplant.  This very kind and compassionate physician explained the availability of infant hearts for transplants are rare. He recommended we terminate the pregnancy.”

Ms. Martin continued, “I went into the hospital on the last day of my 20th week.   After 21 hours of labor with my husband holding my hand, I delivered a very small baby boy. The hospital staff dressed him in a special dressing gown.  We cried so many tears while holding him, telling him all the while we made this decision out of love for him so he would not suffer.  Our son died in my husband’s arms peacefully after 45 minutes.

“Never did it occur to my physician husband nor I to discuss any of our options with a politician,” concluded Ms. Martin. We are supposed to live freely in this country.   The choice to terminate a pregnancy is the decision to be made by a woman and her doctor. Politicians do not have the medical training nor life skills to make the decision for every woman in this state.   Their actions to dictate when women are to become mothers is stepping back in time and this control of women needs to stop NOW!!!”

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Andy Spears is a middle Tennessee writer and policy advocate. He reports on news around public policy issues - education, health care, consumer protection, and more.

Nashville, TN

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