Starting July 1, women seeking an abortion in Tennessee will have to wait 48 hours before they’re allowed to have the procedure.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed a bill on Monday requiring the two-day wait, which makes Tennessee the 27th state to impose a delay for women who want to end a pregnancy. Earlier this month, Oklahoma’s governor signed a law increasing that state's mandatory waiting period from 24 hours to 72.
Legislators who introduce bills requiring waiting periods typically claim that they afford women time to consider her decision and the information provided in pre-procedure counseling. However, research has shown that 87 percent of women seeking an abortion were highly confident in their decision prior to counseling, leading researchers to conclude that women don't benefit from these delays. All they serve to do, opponents say, is to make obtaining an abortion more difficult for low-income women or women who live far from an abortion clinic, and second-guess a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her body.
Many states that require waiting periods also require women to hear false information about fetal pain (research hasn’t proven fetuses feel pain prior to the first trimester), personhood (when personhood begins is a highly personal belief, not fact), and breast cancer (there is no proven link to abortion) before they have an abortion.
State legislatures in North Carolina and Florida recently approved bills requiring or increasing waiting periods as well. Laws in those states are still awaiting governor approval. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion rights research organization, legislation restricting abortion has surged in recent years. The organization says that by the end of 2014, more than half of American women of reproductive age lived in states that were hostile to abortion access.