State Watch

Six-week abortion ban goes into effect in Tennessee

(Mark Humphrey/Associated Press)
People walk across the quiet Legislative Plaza in front of the State Capitol Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn.

A federal court on Tuesday lifted an injunction on Tennessee’s six-week abortion ban in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade.

In its order, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated its 2020 injunction on a Tennessee state law banning abortions after roughly six weeks of pregnancy, directly citing the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Mississippi case that led to Roe being overturned.

Many people do not learn that they are pregnant before the six-week mark, and younger people, people of color and those living with food insecurity are even less likely to detect a pregnancy before that point.

Tennessee was among the 13 states with trigger laws in place that would enact abortions bans immediately or soon after Roe was overturned.

The original injunction was issued after the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other abortion rights organizations filed a lawsuit against the ban.

Since Roe was overturned last week, several of these organizations have been quick to file lawsuits to block abortion bans in multiple states, with some courts issuing injunctions in response. Many of the lawsuits are seeking to block abortion bans by arguing abortions are still protected under state constitutions and laws regarding privacy and self-determination.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU did not indicate plans to attempt to block the abortion ban in Tennessee as they have in other states.

“The ban will disproportionately impact those who have always faced systemic barriers to care — including communities of color, young people, and people with limited incomes,” Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee, said in a statement.

As noted by the Tennessean, the state is also expected to enforce a 2020 “fetal heartbeat” law. Under both abortion laws, physicians can face felony charges if they perform abortions — even to save a patient’s life.

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