Tennessee abortion bill does not ban morning-after pill
Posts on social media say Tennessee banned emergency contraception pills following the leak of a draft opinion from the US Supreme Court that would overturn Roe v. Wade, a ruling that made abortion a right nationwide. The claim is false; the state's legislation does impose stricter rules on abortion-inducing medication, but it does not mention Plan B, which is a contraceptive.
The posts come after the early May story by Politico that showed the US Supreme Court's conservative majority was preparing to overturn Roe v. Wade, a landmark 1973 ruling.
Keith's claim is incorrect, as some people on Twitter -- including a CNN reporter -- have noted.
On May 5, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed a new law restricting access to abortion-inducing medication. That triggered the spread of erroneous claims online regarding access to emergency contraception, or "Plan B," in the state.
The law, titled the Tennessee Abortion-Inducing Drug Risk Protocol Act -- or Public Chapter 1001 -- bans the administration of abortion-inducing medication by mail or online. It also sets heavy penalties for physicians who transgress the new measures.
"An individual who intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly violates this bill commits a Class E felony and, upon conviction, will be fined an amount not to exceed $50,000, be imprisoned for a term not to exceed 20 years, or both," the law says.
"A criminal penalty shall not be assessed against a patient upon whom a chemical abortion is attempted or performed."
Contrary to claims online, the legislation does not apply to the morning-after pill.
"The definition of an abortion-inducing drug is limited to a medicine, drug, or substance taken with the intent to terminate a 'clinically diagnosable pregnancy,'" she said.
"Additionally, even if the language did include Plan B as an abortion-inducing drug, Public Chapter 1001 does not ban abortion-inducing drugs, rather it requires them to be dispensed by a qualified physician after an in-person examination, rather than by a pharmacist or through the mail."
Several health policy and law experts confirmed to AFP that claims of a Plan B ban in Tennessee are false.
"The bill criminalizes telehealth prescriptions for medical abortion pills. It also makes it a crime to receive these pills through the mail," said Lucy Jewel, a law professor at the University of Tennessee. "But Plan B is not a medical abortion pill. Plan B is not covered by the bill."
AFP has debunked numerous claims about abortion here.