Judge Blocks Tennessee Crusade Against Abortion

Abortion BELatina Latinx
(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

The ink in Gov.‘s Bill Lee signature hadn’t dried up when a federal judge blocked his new anti-abortion law in Tennessee.

According to the Tennessean, Lee’s signature was intended to legalize last week a broad ban on abortion in the state, legislation that would enact “some of the nation’s most restrictive abortion regulations.”

Forty-five minutes after the governor signed the law, a court ruled to block it.

Reproductive service providers, including Planned Parenthood, along with the American Civil Liberties Union and other abortion rights groups, filed a lawsuit against the bill in federal court in Nashville in June after the bill passed the Senate by a 23-5 vote in a morning vote. 

Abortion providers requested the injunction in an attempt to delay the implementation of the ban while the case is in court.

Using the latest Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, the plaintiffs argued that the bans are unconstitutional, and District Judge William L. Campbell agreed.

“Plaintiffs have demonstrated they will suffer immediate and irreparable injury, harm, loss, or damage if injunctive relief is not granted pending a preliminary injunction hearing. The Act will immediately impact patients seeking abortions and imposes criminal sanctions on abortion providers. The time-sensitive nature of the procedure also weighs in favor of injunctive relief pending a preliminary injunction hearing,” Campbell wrote in the order granting the restraining order.

As Forbes explained, the measure the Tennessee government planned to impose banned abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected —  as early as six weeks into pregnancy with no exceptions for rape or incest, and made it a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion without following a list of regulations that seemed intended “to change a woman’s mind before going ahead with the procedure.

Ensuring that all patients have access to full reproductive services in the state, including abortion, is integral to the wellbeing of women and their families. But an abortion ban would have an outsized effect on women of color, in particular. According to official figures from 2018, non-white women in Tennessee were terminating pregnancies at two to three times the rate of white women.

In a statement made after the Tennessee legislature passed the bill, Alexis McGill Johnson, acting CEO of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, condemned the legislation.

“Enough is enough. It is abhorrent that Gov. Lee and politicians in Tennessee are exploiting the fear and uncertainty of a global pandemic to push their cruel anti-abortion agenda,” she said, adding, “We won’t stand for this, and we are going to do everything possible to fight back against this extremely harmful law.