Sherrie Lemons

Sherrie Lemons is communications director of the Memphis Full Spectrum Doula Collective and clinic liaison for Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi.

Reproductive health care patients deserve full scope of pregnancy outcome options

By Published: March 18, 2019 10:35 PM CT

On Thursday, the Tennessee House of Representatives passed a bill to ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected. Access to reproductive health care in Tennessee is already bleak: 96 percent of counties in Tennessee don’t have a clinic that provides abortion care, meaning 63 percent of patients between the ages of 15 and 44 have to travel to seek care.

Let’s be clear -- this bill is more than another inflammatory attack. It’s an attempt to ban abortion entirely, plain and simple.

As written, the bill prohibits abortion as early as six weeks, before many people even know that they’re pregnant. Similar versions of this bill have been declared unconstitutional in other states, but the allegedly “pro-family” sponsors would rather waste taxpayer money fighting for an unconstitutional law, instead of expanding access to better health care for all Tennesseans.  

All reproductive health care patients deserve awareness of and access to the entire scope of pregnancy outcome options, including abortion. Restricting these options poses a severe threat to these patients’ livelihoods by depriving them of the opportunity to plan for their futures and robbing them of their bodily autonomy.

Abortion is part of the full spectrum of health care, and a human right. Our state cannot claim pro-family values while stripping away access to abortion and all other reproductive health care.

The Daily Memphian welcomes a diverse range of views and invites readers to submit guest columns by contacting Peggy Burch, community engagement editor, at


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