Tennessee’s 48-hour waiting period law for abortions was restored temporarily as the state makes its appeal. The decision was made on Friday by U.S. District Court Judge Bernard Friedman. He vacated his prior opinion while the state makes an appeal.
In response, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery issued a press release explaining that this decision recognized that Tennessee’s law is “likely constitutional,” and therefore could be enforced.
“The Supreme Court has recognized the authority of State governments to provide women considering abortion the opportunity to receive important information before a life-changing decision is made,” wrote Slatery. “Tennesseans, through their elected representatives, voted for this law and this Office will defend it.”
The state filed a motion to suspend the injunction imposed by a decision handed down last October. As The Tennessee Star reported, Friedman said at the time that the law poses as an undue burden on “women’s right to an abortion” and “an affront to their ‘dignity and autonomy,’ ‘personhood,’ and ‘destiny,’ and ‘conception of [their] place in society.” Friedman further noted that the waiting periods created logistical and financial obstacles that disproportionately impact low-income patients. In February, the Sixth Circuit denied the state’s motion for a stay pending appeal.
Earlier this month, Slatery submitted an emergency request to the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) to stay the injunction.
Slatery argued that SCOTUS should strike down the federal district court’s injunction, based on 30 years of precedent and the similar laws of 14 other states.
Following Friedman’s ruling on Friday, Slatery withdrew his application.
One of the circuit court judges, Judge Karen Nelson Moore, offered a dissenting opinion. She said that the case should rely on whether the law presents a “substantial obstacle” for women to obtain an abortion, according to the precedent established by the landmark case Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
“The crucial question, therefore, is whether these differences [between this case and Casey] are so significant that they require a different result than the one reached in Casey,” said Moore.
Moore argued that Casey doesn’t call waiting periods constitutional. Rather, that opinion said that no formal ruling on the constitutionality of waiting periods could be expressed due to a lack of records.
Further, Moore argued that not all waiting period laws in the 14 other states had been tested and upheld by courts. She added that courts’ rationale for ruling that four of those laws don’t violate abortion rights varied.
The complete ruling and dissent is available here:
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