ACLU, Planned Parenthood among groups filing emergency lawsuit filed against fetal heartbeat bill

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Posted at 3:36 PM, Jun 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-19 17:02:12-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — An emergency lawsuit was filed against a bill passed by the Tennessee legislature banning abortion from as early as six weeks of pregnancy.

The bill was challenged in court Friday by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the ACLU of Tennessee.

Lawmakers passed the bill Just after midnight Thursday night. The bill bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is typically at about six weeks into pregnancy. The measure also requires mothers to get an ultrasound before an abortion and forbids an abortion when the doctor is aware the decision is motivated by race, sex, health, or disability.

If Governor Bill Lee signs the bill into law, it will take effect immediately. The emergency lawsuit filed Friday asks the court to block the bill.

“It is always shameful — not to mention blatantly unconstitutional — when politicians attempt to take away a pregnant person’s right to make the decision that is best for themselves and their family,” said Anjali Dalal, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “But to pass an abortion ban, which disproportionately harms Black and Brown people, when these communities are already suffering under the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and police violence, just proves that these politicians are more interested in furthering an anti-abortion agenda than in serving their constituents. The ability to get an abortion must not depend on where you live or how much money you make.”

The bill's passage comes two months after Governor Lee attempted to ban abortion procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic by labeling abortion care as non-essential. The move was blocked in court in April after these same groups filed a lawsuit against it.

You can read the full complaint here

Similar legislation has been enacted in other states, such as Mississippi and Georgia, but has been blocked by legal challenges.