Abortion Is Just the Latest Dividing Line Between the Twin Cities of Bristol and Bristol

by | Aug 12, 2022 | Health

BRISTOL, Tenn. and BRISTOL, Va. — The community of Bristol is proud to straddle the border between two states.

Tennessee flags fly on the south side of State Street, Virginia flags on the north. A series of plaques down the middle of the main downtown thoroughfare mark the twin cities’ divide. A large sign at the end of town reminds everyone they’re right on the state line.

After the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which gave regulation of abortion back to states, such borders make all the difference in what care is available. In Tennessee, most abortions will soon be illegal. In Virginia, they won’t be.

For staff members at Bristol Regional Women’s Center, an OB-GYN practice that offers abortions in Bristol, Tennessee, the proximity to Virginia created an opportunity. They could ensure access by helping open a clinic on the other side of the state line in Bristol, Virginia.

“Why did we choose Virginia?” asked Diane Derzis, who owns the clinic, which opened in July about a mile across town. “It just made sense.”

Clinics across the country are still adjusting to the new legal landscape created by Dobbs. Some have shut down completely. Others have scaled back the services they offer. Still others have relocated hundreds of miles away.

A federal appeals court allowed Tennessee’s six-week abortion ban to take effect, and a ne …

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