Tennessee did not ban Plan B morning after pill

A viral tweet claimed a new law passed in Tennessee made it a crime to order emergency contraception. That’s wrong.

Update June 24, 2022: On June 24, the Supreme Court accepted the case of Roe v. Wade, who protected abortion rights nationwide. This story has been updated to reflect the Supreme Court’s final decision.

On June 24, the US Supreme Court quashed Roe v. Wade in 1973, which legalized abortion nationwide. States can now pass their own abortion laws to either limit or protect abortion rights.

In May, a leaked draft opinion published by POLITICO indicated that the Roe v. Wade would pick up. When the draft was leaked, there was a flurry of claims online about steps states could take to limit reproductive rights beyond abortion.

A claim said Tennessee had already passed legislation banning emergency contraception like Plan B.

Pam Keith, a Florida attorney and former congressional candidate, tweeted, “Tennessee just banned Plan B and made it a felony punishable by a $50,000 fine for ordering it.” The post received tens of thousands in two days of likes and retweets before Keith deleted it.


Has Tennessee Banned Emergency Contraception Like Plan B?



That's wrong.

No, Tennessee has not banned emergency contraception like Plan B.


Plan B is an emergency contraceptive, not an abortion pill. This means that pregnancy is prevented in the first place; it does not end an existing one.

Plan B is a common brand name of the drug levonorgestrel. The National Library of Medicine (NLM) says: “It works by preventing the release of an egg from the ovary, or the fertilization of the egg by sperm. It can also work by changing the lining of the uterus to prevent a pregnancy from developing.”

The most common abortion pill is mifepristone, formerly called RU-486. The NLM says, “It works by blocking the activity of progesterone, a substance your body makes to help the pregnancy continue.”

On May 5th, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed HB 2416. The bill makes no mention of emergency contraception at all, only abortion pills.

It requires abortion pills to be personally prescribed by a doctor and prohibits them from being delivered by mail or delivery. It doesn’t ban them directly.

These restrictions are not a change from the status quo in Tennessee. The state already had these requirements on the books. The main change in the new law is to increase the penalty for violators.

In the past, a doctor administering an abortion pill to a patient without a personal visit or a pharmacist illegally mailing pills to a patient would have committed a Class B misdemeanor in Tennessee. HB 2416 elevates this to a Class E felony, punishable by a fine of up to $50,000.

The law does not penalize a person for taking an abortion pill. It states: “No criminal penalty shall be imposed on a patient for whom chemical abortion is attempted or performed.”

Keith, the tweet’s author, told CNN she mistakenly misinterpreted the law and deleted her post, but not before it had spread widely.


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Alley Einstein

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