Tennessee won a victory for life Friday when the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a pro-life waiting period law.
WVLT News 8 reports the appeals court ruling means the state may enforce the 2015 law again. The law requires abortion facilities to provide informed consent information to women at least 48 hours prior to doing an abortion.
“Tennesseans support commonsense legislation such as this waiting period, which protects women from being rushed into a decision by the very industry that will profit from her abortion,” said Stacy Dunn, president of Tennessee Right to Life. “There are children alive in Tennessee today because this law allowed their mothers time to consider all their options. The court has made a wise decision to allow this law to go back into effect.”
Tennessee enforced the pro-life law for five years. In October, however, a federal judge permanently enjoined it, arguing that it unconstitutionally burdens women’s access to abortion.
In response, state Attorney General Herbert Slatery filed a motion asking the Sixth Circuit to allow Tennessee to enforce the law while it appeals the judge’s ruling.
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In its ruling Friday, the Sixth Circuit granted Slatery’s request to enforce the law and his request to expedite the case, which began more than five years ago.
Will Brewer, legal counsel and lobbyist for Tennessee Right to Life, expressed confidence that the court ultimately will uphold the law as constitutional.
“This was the first law that Tennessee Right to Life supported following the passage of Amendment 1, because we knew it was both constitutional and would save lives,” Brewer said. “We are grateful the Sixth Circuit is giving this law a thorough examination and feel confident that they will rule in its favor when all is said and done.”
A group of abortion facilities challenged the law soon after it passed. Their lawyers argue that the law causes women to delay their abortions, and a few were not able to abort their unborn babies at all.
But Tennessee Right to Life said 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.”
Waiting periods give women time to consider information about abortion risks and alternatives and the development of their unborn babies before going through with the abortion. These laws 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 evidence that some women change their minds and choose life for their unborn babies after a counseling session and waiting period.