Nashville—Supporters of Amendment 1 held a press conference on Monday, October 27, outside a Nashville abortion facility which is neither licensed nor inspected by the Tennessee Department of Health.
In 2002, owner-operator of The Women’s Center, Gary Boyle, successfully won his lawsuit against the state in which he claimed that the state law requiring licensure and inspection of his abortion facilities violates the Tennessee Constitution. As a result, facilities owned and operated by Boyle in Bristol and Nashville continue to operate without Health Department licensure.
The case is TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, ET AL. v. GARY C. BOYLE, M.D., ET AL., 2002
TN Department of Health website to document licensed facilities:
Yes on 1 provided reporters with copies of a June 21, 2014 audio recording of a 911 call retrieved from Nashville’s Emergency Communications Center. During the unedited recording, abortion facility staff can be heard struggling to provide aid to a patient who, according to The Women’s Center, was undergoing an abortion.
During the call a Women’s Center staffer directs other unidentified personnel where to find medication, and provides the following details to the 911 dispatcher.
911: “Tell me exactly what happened…”
WC Staff: “She started coughing and she quit breathing….”
911: “Is she breathing?”
WC Staff: “Uh, some”
WC Staff: “She just started having a coughing fit and maybe had quit breathing at one point.”
911: “Is her breathing completely normal?
WC Staff: “Now? No.”
911: “And is she completely alert?”
WC Staff: “No.”
911: “Is she changing color?”
WC Staff: “Yes….She just looks ashen, she’s a black woman…”
911: “Does she have any abdominal pain?”
WC Staff: “Uh, I’m sure she does, she’s in the middle of getting an abortion.”
Speaking in support of Amendment 1 and urging that all TN abortion facilities be required to submit to licensure and inspection were Franklin attorney Deana Hood and Murfreesboro physician Brent Boles, M.D.
“The fact that this facility can continue to perform thousands of abortions each year without being licensed by the state Health Department shows just how extreme our state’s abortion policies have become,” said Hood. “Abortion is now considered a fundamental right in Tennessee and even the most modest efforts to regulate the practice are now at risk of being struck down. If we cannot ensure the health and safety of women entering this building, we are abdicating our most basic responsibility as citizens and public officials.”
Dr. Boles agreed.
“Tennesseans who care about women who choose to have abortions should pay close attention to this issue,” said Boles. “The recent 911 call dramatically illustrates that things can and do go wrong during abortions. Half of the facilities which advertise abortion in Tennessee aren’t inspected or licensed, what would we find here if an inspection were required?”
Yes on 1 spokeswoman Lorene Steffes added, “Licensure and inspection is a place where pro-choice and pro-life advocates can agree,” said Steffes. “Anything less places the life and health of vulnerable women and girls in jeopardy.”