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Tennessee AG: 48-hour abortion waiting period will stand, chance to request SCOTUS review has passed

"The legal battle is over."
Herbert Slatery
Posted at 11:46 AM, Nov 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-12 12:57:41-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF/AP) — Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery has announced that the state's 48-hour waiting period for abortions will stand and “all legal challengers [are] exhausted.”

Slatery said via a release Friday that the opportunity for opponents to seek further review from the U.S. Supreme Court had expired — meaning the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit’s ruling will stand.

"The legal battle is over," said the Tennessee AG's Office.

Back in August, a federal appeals court upheld the abortion waiting period, arguing that opponents had failed to identify instances where a woman had been significantly burdened by the requirement.

That decision came after a lower federal court last year struck down the 2015 law that requires those seeking an abortion to make two trips to a clinic — first for mandatory counseling and then for the abortion at least 48 hours later.

However, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed and instead sided with the state’s attorneys, who argued that the law could be struck down only if it prevented a large percentage of women from obtaining abortions altogether.

“This law was on the books for five years before the district court enjoined it. The Sixth Circuit took the unusual step of having the full court review the district court decision and that of its own panel. We are grateful that the Court recognized the validity of a law passed by the people’s representatives and did not substitute its own judgment for the policy decision made by the legislature and the Governor,” Slatery said in a release.

More than 20 states require patients to wait a specified amount of time — typically 24 hours — between counseling and the abortion procedure, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports reproductive rights.

Many Republican-led states, including Tennessee, have increasingly enacted anti-abortion laws in the hope that the conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court will eventually end the constitutional right to abortion protected under the 1973 Roe v. Wade landmark ruling.