State Watch

Court rules Tennessee can deny abortions over Down syndrome, race or gender

A federal appeals court ruled on Friday that Tennessee can deny abortions due to race, gender or if there has been a diagnosis of Down syndrome, The Associated Press reports.  

The ban was part of sweeping legislation enacted in July that would prohibit abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which could take place as early as six weeks. The law was in effect for less than an hour before being blocked by a lower court. 

Abortion groups Planned Parenthood, Center for Reproductive Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit in June after the bill passed the state Senate.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling allows the ban to take effect while litigation over the law takes place.   

Immediately after the ruling, attorneys for the plaintiffs petitioned a lower federal court for a temporary restraining order to block the ban, according to AP. They argued that the law prohibits abortion seekers from “obtaining constitutionally protected pre-viability abortion care.”

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement that the ban is “just another way anti-abortion politicians are attempting to limit the constitutional right to abortion care and to create stigma.” 

“Decisions about whether and when to continue or to end a pregnancy are best made by the individual and their family,” she said. “We will continue to fight these bans in the courts.”

In a statement posted on social media, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) applauded the decision. 

“Every life is precious and every child has inherent human dignity. Our law prohibits abortion based on the race, gender, or diagnosis of Down syndrome of the child and the court’s decision will save lives,” he said. “Protecting our most vulnerable Tennesseans is worth the fight.” 

Three states ban abortions when the fetus may have a genetic anomaly, according to Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights research and policy organization. Three states also prohibit abortion based on race, while 10 states ban abortions based on gender at some point in pregnancy.

Tags Abortion Bill Lee Center for Reproductive Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union Planned Parenthood Tennessee

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