by Laura Clawson
A Tennessee woman is the latest example of how, as long as states are allowed to ban abortion, we have to expect horror stories about the results of those bans. Her state’s ban forced Mayron Hollis into carrying a dangerous pregnancy until it turned into such an immediate threat to her health that doctors performed a simultaneous cesarean delivery and emergency hysterectomy. While Hollis’ story is an extreme, it’s revealing about how bans like Tennessee’s affect the delivery of health care and outcomes for everyone in need of abortion care.
At the time of Hollis’ pregnancy, Tennessee’s abortion ban had a theoretical exemption for the life of the mother—but doctors could only invoke it as a defense to being charged with a felony for providing an abortion to begin with. Needless to say, few doctors were willing to run that risk. In April, Gov. Bill Lee signed a law slightly expanding the medical exemptions, but that’s not going to be enough. Other states already have life or health of the mother exemptions and it’s still common for doctors (and, even more so, hospital lawyers) to demand that pregnant people face imminent death before getting care. Stories like Hollis’ can still happen in Tennessee, even under the tweaked version of the law.