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Vote limits clinic abortion services in Mt. Juliet

The Board of Commissioners held a special-called meeting with a packed crowd Sunday night to amend a zoning ordinance, limiting the types of services a new clinic can perform in the City.

The Mt. Juliet Board of Commissioners held a special-called meeting Sunday night in an attempt to prevent a new clinic from providing surgical abortions.

Carafem Health Center, a women’s health clinic that also provides abortion services, opened its fourth location in Mt. Juliet on Friday and was almost immediately met with opposition from local residents and city officials.

In response, the City Commission convened in a special-called meeting March 3 to pass an ordinance that would limit the services the clinic could provide at its current location. The Board voted to rezone surgical centers that provide surgical abortions from commercial to industrial zoning. The clinic is currently located in a building zoned for commercial activities.

The meeting, which lasted less than five minutes, was met with a packed crowd, the majority of whom oppose the clinic. Despite the vote, the clinic was open on Monday.

Mt. Juliet Mayor Ed Hagerty said carafem did not apply for the necessary permits before they opened and that the board chose to amend the City’s zoning ordinance, essentially forcing surgical abortion services to be located in industrial-zoned areas.

“We will take any action that is within the law,” said Hagerty. “I think at this point we’ve done what we can. Beyond this, it’s up to [carafem] to comply. If they choose not to, then we will take further action within the law.”

A statement from carafem said the decision to open the new location stems from an increase in Tennessee clients traveling to Atlanta after Nashville Planned Parenthood paused their services last fall.

According to carafem’s website, carafem.org, the clinic provides abortion care up to 10 weeks with the abortion pill and offers a variety of birth control options and emergency contraception. They currently do not provide surgical abortion at the Mt. Juliet clinic, however they plan to expand services to include the procedure as well as STI testing and treatment. The website also states that carafem is a nonprofit organization that provides women’s reproductive health services with centers in Maryland, Illinois, Georgia and Tennessee.

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