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Doctor leaves Tennessee for Colorado over abortion ban

Dr. Leilah Zahedi-Spung said a Tennessee law made it so she couldn't provide the care she's trained to perform in the state – so she packed her bags for Colorado.

COLORADO, USA — Colorado abortion access advocates said they've seen a 30-fold increase in out-of-state patients seeking care here, but since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, doctors in states that banned abortions are arriving in Colorado too.

Dr. Leilah Zahedi-Spung is one such doctor. She left Chattanooga, Tenn. for Denver last year in a decision she called one of the hardest she's ever had to make. 

"I pulled my children out of school. I told them we were moving because I couldn't do my job. I had to say goodbye to people that I really care about including patients," she said. 

She's a high-risk obstetrician who also provides abortion care. Zahedi-Spung said she was among the only doctors in Chattanooga trained to provide that care for women more than 14 weeks pregnant. 

Zahedi-Spung said she had purchased a dream home in the city and planned to settle down permanently there. "I knew that that's where I would be happiest," she said. "I also knew that it was a place where my skills that I built over seven years of training, especially abortion care provision, would be used and needed."

But so-called heartbeat and a trigger laws both went into effect shortly after the Supreme Court decision on abortion last year – and made the care she provided illegal and forced her to send patients away or face a felony charge, she said. 

"I couldn't do it. I couldn't put myself at risk like that. I couldn't put my family at risk like that. It just wasn't worth it," Zahedi-Spung said. 

So she took a job providing care in Colorado late last year – leaving behind the place she wanted to make her forever home and the patients she knew needed her. 

"And that causes a lot of guilt," she said. "Thankfully my family is so supportive and so home is wherever I am with them. It's been hard on everybody, but we're glad to be here."



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