NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a federal court decision Thursday, rendering it legal for a 48-hour waiting period for abortions in the state.
"Before making life’s big decisions, it is often wise to take time to reflect," judges wrote in their decision. "The people of Tennessee believed that having an abortion was one of those decisions. So they passed a law requiring a waiting period of 48 hours. Although the Supreme Court upheld a similar 24-hour waiting period in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the district court said that Tennessee’s waiting period violates a woman’s right to have an abortion. We disagree and reverse."
According to the 2015 law, it requires patients to make two trips to a provider and wait at least two days to access abortion services after receiving in-person, state-mandated biased counseling. This past April, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals granted the state’s motion for a stay, pending appeal. The ruling allowed the state to enforce the law while the case continues on appeal.
Back in October 2020, the U.S. District Court of Middle Tennessee deemed the waiting period unlawful.
“Every woman should have the information she needs to make the healthiest choice for everyone involved in a pregnancy,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Denise Harle.
The ADF filed an amicus brief to the court, taking the side the waiting period was legal.
"Many women resort to abortion because they feel it is their only choice and then regret the decision for years to come. As the 6th Circuit held, the Supreme Court has already recognized that state governments have the constitutional authority to provide women contemplating abortions the opportunity to receive crucially important information before such a life-changing procedure is performed."
Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights said the fight over the issue wouldn't end here.
"The forced delay requirement has nothing to do with patient health," Ashley Coffield, President & CEO of Planned Parenthood of Tennessee & North Mississippi. "It exists simply to punish those who seek access to safe, legal abortion and disproportionately impacts Tennessee’s low-income communities and communities of color, who already face systemic barriers to quality health care. This law was created by politicians — not medical experts— to shame patients for their personal decisions. Well, we are not ashamed. Abortion is health care and we at Planned Parenthood will continue to fight for our right to control our own bodies because our patients deserve nothing less."