Federal court blocks Tennessee abortion bans

Federal court blocks Tennessee abortion bans
Federal judge blocks Tennessee’s ‘heartbeat’ anti-abortion law

TENNESSEE — A federal district court in Tennessee granted a preliminary injunction that will block Tennessee’s law on banned abortions.

This includes dismissing the law that bans abortions at nearly every stage of pregnancy, starting as early as six weeks.

The court also blocked a part of the law that bans abortion based on a patient’s reason for seeking an abortion, including reasons related to race, sex, or a fetal diagnosis of Down syndrome, according to reports.

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People of color are affected disproportionately by abortions bans, and especially those that ban the procedure before many people know that they are pregnant, according to a press release from Matt Anderson, senior vice president of Greenlight Media Strategies.

These limitations threaten their health, rights, and lives, per reports.

Additionally, ‘reason bans’ inflict further harm by perpetuating stigma around abortions and stereotypes of Black and Brown communities, Asian Americans, and people with disabilities. Abortion patients, like all patients should have the right to make private medical decisions with their families and their doctors, without interference from politicians.

The court’s decision came after a number of abortion providers in the state represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the ACLU of Tennessee requested certain limitations.

On July 13, Gov. Bill Lee signed the law, and shortly after the court issued a temporary restraining order blocking the abortion bans.

The injunction approved on Friday will block the bans until the lawsuit is finished, essentially providing longer-term relief.

In the decision, Judge William L. Campbell wrote, “Applying binding Supreme Court precedent and the factors required for the extraordinary remedy of an injunction, the Court concludes that an injunction should issue.”

“As Tennessee and the rest of the country grapple with the dueling public health crises of systemic racism and COVID-19, relitigating the constitutional right to abortion is the last thing politicians should be wasting valuable time and resources on, said Alexis McGill, president and CEO Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Let’s be clear, abortion bans are part of a larger, racist public health infrastructure that systematically forces people of color to navigate more barriers just to get the health care they need. Banning abortion during a pandemic when people are already suffering is an added cruelty that puts essential health care out of reach. We’ll continue fighting for our patients in Tennessee and across the country against these harmful attacks, no matter what.”

Ashley Cofield, president and CEO Planned Parenthood Tennessee and North Mississippi said Gov. Lee’s plan is a ‘coordinated attack on abortion rights'.

“Today’s injunction affirms that abortion will remain safe and legal in Tennessee for the foreseeable future,” she said. “We are in the beginning of a multi-year court battle, but today patients can feel assured that they can receive the health care they choose while we fight for a ruling on this unconstitutional ban on abortion. Gov. Lee’s ban is just one piece in a national, coordinated attack on abortion rights, and courts have continued to affirm the right to an abortion. We are confident that Tennessee will be no different, and we will prevail.”

Anjali Dalal, who is the senior staff attorney at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project believes abortion bans are unconstitutional violations and misogynistic.

“It is right that the court ruled against Tennessee’s abortion ban today, an unconstitutional violation of the right to abortion, rooted in misogyny and racism,” said Dalal. “It is shameful that it took litigation to stop anti-abortion politicians from ruthlessly attacking their constituents’ rights and health care, especially during a pandemic. But we will always fight to protect abortion from these attacks — and should the state move to obstruct access to care again, we will see them in court.”

During the start of COVID-19, Gov. Lee tried to deem abortion procedures as unessential despite opposition from leading national medical groups.

After a lawsuit that was filed in April by the same organizations litigating today’s case, that attempt was denied.

“While we welcome today’s ruling, it is outrageous that Tennessee’s anti-abortion lawmakers chose this path,” said Jessica Sklarsky, lead attorney on this case and senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights. ”As the deep roots and tragedies of white supremacy are laid bare, and the pandemic exposes long-ignored health inequities, these anti-abortion lawmakers chose to utilize the state’s limited resources to defend clearly unconstitutional abortion bans that prey on stereotypes, disproportionately harm communities of color, and further entrench systemic racism. Instead of perpetuating these injustices, Tennessee lawmakers should focus their time and resources on policies that address them.”

Last year alone, 25 abortion bans were enacted in 12 states, including: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Tennessee, and Utah.

Litigation lawsuits from the Center for Reproductive Rights, the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and other organizations fought to ensure abortion remains legal in all 50 states.