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How the U.S. Supreme Court's decision could impact Tennessee abortion law

AP Poll Abortion
Posted at 6:42 PM, Dec 01, 2021

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The U.S. Supreme Court started a hearing Wednesday for a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks.

The ruling from the case could change how Tennessee and every other state deals with abortions.

Abortion is an issue that's long been debated in the halls of the state capitol here in Tennessee.

Though, it's a neighboring state's law that's made it's way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The case centers around Roe vs. Wade and whether abortion restrictions put an undue burden on a woman.

According to Vanderbilt University professor of law Suzanna Sherry, there are two ways this could go.

"The key is whether they're going to overrule Roe [vs. Wade] or whether they're going to uphold the statute without overruling Roe," said Sherry. "If they overrule Roe, then states can do whatever they want. And if they uphold the statute without overruling Roe, but simply stating a statute doesn't impose an undue burden, then it's going to be a case-by-case decision again."

Sherry said she thinks the court will uphold Mississippi's state law.

There's also a Tennessee law that's going through the appellate process. It would ban abortions after six weeks.

State Democrats who listened to the hearing said that would take the choice out of the hands of mothers.

"[It's] illegalizing abortion, essentially," said Nashville Democrat Rep. John Ray Clemmons. "What's that going to do? Are we going to go back to women doing this in secret or illegally?"

Republicans who pushed for Tennessee's law said the U.S. Supreme Court should've never taken the decision out of the hands of states.

"It gives the power to the people to decide these matters on abortion," said Mount Juliet Republican Rep. Susan Lynn. "That's very important because that power has been taken for 50 years."

Even if the U.S. Supreme Court upholds Mississippi's law it doesn't mean Tennessee's law banning abortion at six weeks would withstand the same scrutiny.

It's likely the court's decision will be released in June.