NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — “Tennessee’s total abortion ban begins in just a few hours,” Beyond Roe Collective member Gayle Geeter said.

Abortion rights groups held a press conference on Capitol Hill Wednesday, urging voters to keep the issue in mind at the polls in November, as Tennessee’s near-total abortion law takes effect Thursday.

“Voting for progressive candidates like those behind me to help protect against a national abortion ban,” attorney Rachel Welty said. “Donating to abortion funds to provide access to care are two important direct actions we can take in our state to fight against these bans.”

On the other side, Governor Bill Lee (R-Tennessee) answered some questions earlier this week about the looming law.

“Our focus is on implementing that law,” Lee said. “It’s a hopeful day in our country, I believe, as we protect the lives of the unborn.”

The law is essentially a total ban on abortion, save for one detail.

“What we need to make sure is that there is an ability for a doctor to perform in the case of a dangerous maternal health situation,” Lee said, “that that exists for a doctor.”

That exception is murky. A physician has to have “affirmative defense” and use “good faith medical judgment” to perform an abortion in emergency situations.

Notably, the physician can’t do the procedure for any reason relating to mental health. If they do perform an abortion and it’s ruled that the situation was not an emergency, it’s a Class C felony.

Class C felonies currently include crimes like aggravated assault and robbery, and they carry a maximum sentence of 15 years.

“These laws create burdensome divides between the physician and the patient,” Dr. Amy Gordon Bono, a primary care physician, said. “Whether the General Assembly intended to do so or not, these laws will lead to fewer healthcare workers entering the primary care profession.”

Tennessee is one of 14 states that have a six-week or full ban in place. It’s also ranked 36th in the country when it comes to infant mortality rate at 6.2 deaths per 1,000 births, and it has the 7th-highest teen birth rate at 23.3 per 1,000 births.