Judge Blocks Tennessee Law Banning Sex-Selection Abortions That Target Baby Girls

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jul 31, 2020   |   9:22AM   |   Nashville, Tennessee

A federal judge blocked a Tennessee law Friday that protects unborn baby girls from being targeted in discriminatory sex-selection abortions.

Jurist reports U.S. District Judge William Campbell Jr. issued a preliminary injunction against the law after Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union sued. The ruling follows a temporary restraining order that Campbell ordered just 45 minutes after Gov. Bill Lee signed the law on July 13.

The sweeping pro-life legislation includes multiple measure to protect unborn babies from abortions in Tennessee. It prohibits abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy; but it also includes other levels of restriction going up from eight weeks to 24 weeks of pregnancy, which would go into effect depending on what a court may strike down.

The law also bans discriminatory abortions based on the unborn baby’s sex, race or a disability diagnosis. It includes informed consent measures as well. It requires abortion facilities to inform women about the abortion pill reversal procedure and the size and gestational age of their unborn babies. It also requires abortion facilities to allow the mother to hear her unborn baby’s heartbeat and see the baby on an ultrasound.

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Campbell blocked the state from enforcing the abortion bans through 24 weeks as well as the ban on abortions for sex-selection, race or a disability, according to the report.

He argued that the law “violates long-standing Supreme Court precedent prohibiting bans on pre-viability abortions that this court is bound to follow.” On the discrimination-based abortion ban, Campbell ruled that it is “unconstitutionally vague.”

“The Tennessee General Assembly passed, and Governor Lee ultimately signed, a law that criminalizes the provision of abortions in Tennessee once a fetal heartbeat is detected or when an abortion is sought for specified reasons,” the judge wrote. “Applying binding Supreme Court precedent and the factors required for the extraordinary remedy of an injunction … the court concludes that an injunction should issue.”

His new order means the state may not enforce these sections of the law until the case goes to trial. The AP reports Campbell also said the pro-abortion groups are likely to succeed at trial.

Tennessee leaders have said they will not give up the fight to protect unborn babies’ lives. Gov. Lee promised to do “whatever it takes in court” to defend the law.

“Life is precious and everything that is precious is worthy of protecting,” Lee said earlier this month. “It’s our responsibility to protect the most vulnerable in our community, and certainly the most vulnerable in Tennessee includes the unborn.”

Experts estimate that tens of millions of girls are missing from the world due to sex selection abortions alone. However, few U.S. states ban the discriminatory practice, and the abortion industry often challenges their laws when they do.

The Tennessee legislation could save tens of thousands of unborn baby girls and boys and protect their mothers, but the success of the heartbeat ban against a legal challenge is uncertain.

Some pro-lifers have renewed hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold an abortion ban and overturn Roe v. Wade. Others, however, are hesitant because of concerns about losing the court battle and being forced to reimburse pro-abortion groups for their legal fees.

The Supreme Court took away the states’ ability to protect unborn babies from abortion under Roe v. Wade, and instead allowed abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy. Roe made the United States one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks.