CNA Staff, Nov 23, 2020 / 10:00 am (CNA).- A federal appeals court on Friday allowed a Tennessee ban on some abortions to go into effect.
A three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that a part of the state’s abortion law can go into effect, a “reason ban” that bars discrimination abortions.
Tennessee in July enacted a law with several restrictions on abortion, including a “heartbeat ban” on abortions conducted as early as six weeks into pregnancy, and bans on abortions at other stages in pregnancy should the “heartbeat” ban be struck down by a court.
The law also banned doctors from performing abortions if they knew the mother was seeking the abortion “because of” the sex, race, or Down syndrome diagnosis of her baby—a “reason ban,” in Section 217 of the law.
Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the ACLU challenged the law in court. In July, a federal district court halted the law from going into effect.
The Sixth Circuit on Friday put a stay on the lower court’s ruling with respect to Section 217, allowing that part of the law to go into effect.
Judges Eugene Siler and Amul Thapar issued the majority opinion. The plaintiffs’ claim, they said, that the law was vaguely written did not have “a likelihood of success on the merits.” The state, meanwhile, would suffer “ongoing irreparable harm” if the law was halted. Thus, they said the conditions were met to grant a stay on the lower court’s decision.
After the ruling, pro-abortion groups submitted another request for the courts to halt the “Reason Bans,” arguing this time that the bans violated a woman’s constitutional right to a pre-viability abortion.
A coalition of 18 states filed a brief at the court supporting Tennessee’s law.
“Protecting the most vulnerable members of society is an interest of the utmost importance for States. And it is hard to imagine a scenario where this interest comes into sharper focus than protecting unborn children from eugenics-motivated abortions,” the brief stated, which was authored by Kentucky’s Attorney General Daniel Cameron.
The states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia also signed onto the brief.
Kentucky is in court fighting to protect its own discrimination abortion ban, Cameron said.
In his dissent, Judge Eric Clay said that the state’s ban violates a woman’s constitutional right to a pre-viability abortion.
“If a woman seeks an abortion for a reason prohibited by the statute, a physician’s refusal to provide the service will pose an ‘undue burden’ on the woman in her effort to obtain a pre-viability abortion, a constitutionally protected choice,” Judge Clay wrote.
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