Jun 27, 2022 - Politics

Nashville leaders plot post-Roe policies

Illustration of a small blue megaphone against a red background.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

For the first time in 50 years, pro-abortion rights politicians are navigating policy positions in states like Tennessee where abortion will soon be banned.

  • In Nashville, progressive leaders' ideas range from ignoring the state's ban on abortions to financing trips for legal abortions in other states.

Why it matters: By this time next month, virtually all abortions in Tennessee will be banned. The only exceptions are for instances where a mother's life or physical well-being would be in jeopardy.

  • The Supreme Court struck down the longstanding legal precedent provided by Roe v. Wade and sent the regulation of abortions back to the states to decide.
  • Tennessee is one of 13 states with a law automatically triggering an abortion ban, which will come 30 days after Friday's court ruling.

Driving the news: Metro Councilmember Freddie O'Connell tells Axios he is studying the creation of an abortion access fund to help people get abortions in states where they are still legal.

  • "As someone who personally knows too many women who are the victims of sexual violence, I intend to fight to ensure that one of our core values does not become forcing motherhood through violence," O'Connell said on Twitter. "We must ensure access to safe, legal abortions."
  • Metro Councilmember Delishia Porterfield announced she has filed a resolution calling on police to make enforcing the abortion ban the lowest priority and to restrict city funds from being used to investigate or report suspected abortions.

The intrigue: Davidson County District Attorney Glenn Funk reiterated that he will not prosecute doctors who perform abortions or patients who get them.

  • Funk said in a press release Friday that the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade joins the historic Dred Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson rulings to form "an unholy triumvirate of the most hateful and hurtful Supreme Court decisions that will forever stain the court and this nation."

Reality check: Anti-abortion champions are prepared to fight back against these ideas.

  • Last year, Republican legislators passed a law allowing for special prosecutors if local DAs refuse to pursue certain cases.
  • At a press conference on Friday, Right to Life executives expressed support for banning advertising or other efforts to help women and girls get abortions in other states.

The other side: Banning abortion has been a political rallying cry for Republicans for more than a generation. It has been a foundational tool in registering evangelical voters and in vetting nominees for federal judicial appointments.

  • The Supreme Court's ruling was cause for a victory lap.
  • "For almost 50 years, we’ve taken our stand for life," Sen. Marsha Blackburn said in a video posted to social media. "It's been against a rising tide of moral decay, but with courage and dedication, we built a society that cherishes life at all stages.”

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Nashville.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Nashville stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Nashville.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more