MEMPHIS, Tenn. — On Friday morning, a voicemail popped up on the patient’s phone: She needed to call the clinic right away.
The Supreme Court had just overturned Roe v. Wade, throwing into chaos an already fragile and limited system of abortion care across the South, and hundreds of women learned that the abortions they were seeking were now illegal. That wasn’t yet the case in Tennessee, but the reprieve was temporary.
The patient connected with a staff member at Choices, an independent clinic in Memphis, around noon. The worker told her that they were canceling some upcoming appointments, and would call her back soon to let her know about the status of hers. Her procedure was scheduled for Monday. By then, there was a chance it would be too late.
Tennessee is one of the handful of states with trigger laws where bans on abortion won’t go into effect immediately; the delay here is expected to last at least 30 days. But there’s another measure that is expected to kick in first. On Friday, Tennessee’s attorney general asked the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to allow a state law largely banning abortion around six weeks of pregnancy to take effect, which would halt about 90% of the procedures at Choices. A decision could come as soon as Monday.