New laws delay abortions, save pets in hot cars, phase out traffic cameras

justice-scales-and-gavelThe State of Tennessee passed 181 new laws, including abortion regulations, increased cigarette costs, uninsured motorists, gun permits and more.

Except for laws temporarily held up by restraining orders, all were effective on July 1.

Abortion law

One of the abortion laws, Bill SB1222, implements a 48-hour waiting period on procuring an abortion. Ashley Coffield, CEO for Planned Parenthood in the Greater Memphis region, found the law to be problematic.

“[The law] can delay an abortion to later in pregnancy,” she said, moving the procedure from a medical abortion to a surgical abortion. She also said that the 48-hour rule adds additional costs to the patient that will especially weigh more heavily on poor women.

There is an exception for medical emergencies.

The other new legislature regarding abortion, Bill SB1280, is currently on hold because of a judge’s restraining order on the law. The bill provides that any abortion clinic which provides more than 50 abortions per year must be licensed as an “ambulatory surgical treatment center,” a costly maneuver for clinics that are not already deemed as such.

Only two current clinics in the state could be affected by the law, and both are in East Tennessee.

“As far as I know there are no providers in Shelby Count or West Tennessee that will be affected by it,” Coffield said.

The two clinics in the area are both already ambulatory surgical treatment centers.

Cigarette law

As for the cigarette law (Bill SB0199), according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the “cost of doing business” fee will increase from 41 cents a pack to 76 cents a pack in 2017. Bartlett City Hall did not have enough information on the law yet to comment.

Traffic cameras

Bartlett mayor Keith McDonald did comment on another law — Bill SB1128, which bans the use of traffic enforcement cameras as basis for issuing speeding tickets as soon as contracts for the cameras expire.

“It won’t affect what we’re doing right now,” he said. “We don’t have them, stationary unmanned speed cameras. … We do have a couple devices that will show you your speed limit and clock it.”

He added that those devices are not used to photograph drivers.

Heat rescues for pets in cars

Another law passed was an addendum to the “Good Samaritan” law (HB537) that already lets citizens break into a locked car in order to save a young child. Now that law also extends to pets.

Captain Tina Schaber of the Bartlett Police Department believes the law will save many pets.

“Pets are living creatures like we are, and, for the most part, they’re considered parts of our family,” she said.

In order to comply with the law, she said, you must contact authorities before breaking into the vehicle and do as little damage as possible. She also mentioned that you must leave a note for the owner, describing what you are going to do with the animal.

Uninsured drivers

The state’s uninsured motorist rate, which is currently at almost 25 percent is higher in the Mid-South, where it’s closer to 38 percent, according to David Britton Peel, a Millington-based medical negligence lawyer who serves the Greater Memphis area.

He explained that there are approximately 40,000 crashes a year that involve uninsured motorists statewide. The new law creates a real-time system of auto liability policy verification.

The new law also increases the fine for failure to provide proof of insurance from $100 to $300. Starting in 2016, if a driver fails to provide proof of insurance to an officer, the officer may tow the vehicle as long as the officer’s agency has adopted a policy on this, Peel said.

Having a large uninsured motorists policy is critical. If an uninsured driver commits a hit and run, drivers have only their own uninsured motorists policy for protection.

Other laws

Other notable laws launching this month include:

  • More stringent panhandling laws.
  • The ability to buy a lifetime handgun carry permit for $500.
  • Strengthened penalties against spectators of animal fights.
  • The removal of a rapist’s parental rights when a child is conceived.
  • Protection for employees who are fired or face adverse employment action for storing a gun or ammo in a car in the employer parking lot.

Editor’s note: See a complete list of the 181 new or revised laws that went into effect July 1 at the Tennessee Bar Association’s website:

A column by attorney David Peel also contributed to this article. Reach him through
Contact Mac Trammel at