Abortion clinics speak out against new bills being discussed in Nashville

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Tuesday marks day one of the Tennessee legislative session, and Amendment 1, which focuses on abortion laws, is getting a lot of attention on Capital Hill.

Voters passed Amendment 1 in November, giving lawmakers more control over abortion laws. Protestors took to the capitol building, speaking out against bills that could change the rules for abortion clinics across the state.

Rebecca Terrell is the executive director of CHOICES, a women's health clinic that offers abortions. She's cheering on the men and women who went to Nashville.

She said, "Just to go make their voices heard and let the legislature know we are watching."

One of the bills being presented would require informed consent for an abortion, which means a specific script a doctor would have to read on the risks of the procedure. Then the patient would sign off.

Groups that support Amendment 1 say this is essential.

Cathy Waterbury, with Yes On 1 said, "A woman needs to be informed about the procedure she's having and have time to reflect and think before she makes the final decision."

Pro-abortion supporters say doctors already have to do this with every medical procedure, and this law is just singling out abortion.

Terrell said, "It is scripting what a doctor has to say to a patient about a particular procedure. And it happens in no other medical procedure."

The bill would also require state health department inspections for all abortion clinics. Many are already inspected, but right now it's optional.

Waterbury said, "It just made sense to have those facilities inspected by the health department. Just for the safety of women."

Clinics that offer these services are worried this would let the government come in and shut down a clinic for reasons that have nothing to do with safety.

"When they go, and they start saying your hallways need to be 20 feet wide because that's what it is in a hospital. That's just putting barriers in place," Terrell said.

Both parties say they're focused on women's safety, and both sides are watching carefully as lawmakers debate the issues.

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