TRAP Laws and Intimidation Has Its Intended Effects On Clinics


The closing of Tennessee’s Volunteer Women’s Medical Clinic has reminded many that TRAP laws really are put in place to elminate access to safe, legal abortion care. The decades-old reproductive health clinic is being forced to close due to the inability to find a provider with hospital admitting privileges. Lawmakers are claiming they never meant shut anyplace down, it just happened.

Via The Tennessean:

Pro-life advocates, however, say the goal of the laws has been to ensure facilities provide safe and adequate care.

“We’re grateful to the legislators who ensured that the most basic common-sense policies and protections were put in place to safeguard the health and well being of women in our state,” said Brian Harris, president of Tennessee Right to Life, which lobbied for Tennessee’s law, known as the Life Defense Act. “The closure may be a byproduct, but that was not the goal of the legislation.”

Insincerity aside, politicians act on one side to shut down clinics by limiting the number of doctors who can provide, then anti-choice activists focus in on those who remain, in order to intimidate those doctors out of providing services, too. The only other clinic in the city and one of the eight remaining clinics in the state is now also in danger of closing.

In May, Dr. Morris Campbell obtained admitting privileges at University of Tennessee Medical Center. He died five days later. He was both a doctor providing services at the Volunteer Women’s Medical Clinic and the medical director of the Knoxville Center for Reproductive Health.

In addition to losing Campbell, the Knoxville Center for Reproductive Health lost another part-time physician who had stepped forward to help after “she felt intimidated by pro-life protestors,” [KCRH co-director Corinne] Rovetti said.

The intimidation isn’t surprising in the least, and could have been far worse considering the original version of the TRAP bill would have created a database of provider personal information that could have potentially been used to ramp up harassment on doctors.

TRAP laws are quickly becoming the favorite abortion restriction of anti-choice legislators. Although the law that could close down Jackson Women’s Health Organization in Mississippi and leave the state without a public provider has received the most attention, other states are suffering as well. A TRAP law that allows the Louisiana Board of Health to close clinics immediately after finding a potential health violation, rather than allowing them a chance to address the issue, has been working its way through appeals courts. It was recently ruled constitutional since it hadn’t yet directly affected any of the clinics involved in the suit, so no proof of harm could be found.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

To schedule an interview with contact director of communications Rachel Perrone at rachel@rhrealitycheck.org.

Follow Robin Marty on twitter: @robinmarty