Tennessee may not enforce its 48-hour abortion waiting period after a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals panel refused Friday to consider lifting a block on the pro-life law.
In a divided 2-1 decision, the judges rejected Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery’s request to enforce the pro-life law while the appeals process continues, the AP reports. The two judges decided that the state likely would lose its case, according to the report.
“This is, yet again, another slap in the face to the voters of Tennessee who sent their legislators to Nashville to enact legislation such as this waiting period and informed consent law to protect pregnant women and their unborn children,” said Stacy Dunn, vice president of Tennessee Right to Life.
Tennessee lawmakers passed the law in 2015, requiring abortion facilities to provide informed consent information to women 48 hours prior to doing an abortion. And for five years, the state enforced the law.
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However, a group of abortion facilities challenged the law, and, in October, a federal judge ruled that it unconstitutionally burdens women’s access to abortion.
Lawyers for the abortion facilities argued that the law caused women to delay their abortions, and a few were not able to abort their unborn babies at all.
But Tennessee Right to Life responded that the law is saving babies’ lives.
“This common sense policy, in effect since 2015, has resulted in the saving of countless unborn lives and a lack of regret by mothers who had time to further consider her decision following provision of informed consent information,” it commented last fall. “The extra 48-hours also allowed mothers the opportunity to identify life-affirming resources in her community or region.”
Dunn said they remain hopeful that the courts will uphold the law and pointed to past appeals court rulings that consistently have upheld waiting period requirements.
“However, the Sixth Circuit’s decision puts the lives of countless unborn children in jeopardy until then,” she said.
Waiting periods help women by giving them time to consider information about the abortion, its risks and alternatives and the development of their unborn babies. They also save babies’ lives.
In 2019, Dr. Priscilla Coleman, a professor at Bowling Green State University, testified that 25 percent to 40 percent of women seeking abortions arrive at the abortion facility undecided. She said her research found that informed consent requirements and waiting periods do help women.
Another study from University of California, San Francisco also found that some women change their minds and choose life for their unborn babies after a counseling session and waiting period.