Court Allows State to Enforce Down Syndrome Abortion Ban

Tennessee can enforce ban as court battle continues
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 23, 2020 12:12 AM CST
Court: Tennessee Can Enforce Down Syndrome Abortion Ban
In this Nov. 10, 2020, file photo, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee speaks with reporters in Nashville, Tenn.   (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

A federal appeals court ruled Friday that Tennessee can begin outlawing abortions because of a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, as well as prohibit the procedure if it's based on the race or gender of the fetus. Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee enacted the so-called “reason bans” earlier this year as part of a sweeping anti-abortion measure. The law gained national attention because it banned abortion as early as six weeks—making it one of the strictest in the country—but it included several other anti-abortion components. The law was immediately blocked by a lower federal court just hours after Lee signed it into law. However, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals' decision will allow the state to enforce the reason bans while abortion rights groups continue their court battle against that law, the AP reports.

The plaintiffs, which include Tennessee abortion providers being represented by reproductive rights groups, had argued the ban was improperly vague, but the court disagreed. Currently, more than a dozen states have similar reason bans in place. Immediately following the appeals court ruling, the plaintiffs' attorneys filed a request in lower federal court for a temporary restraining order to block the reason bans once again, but this time argued the law illegally prohibits a patient from “obtaining constitutionally protected pre-viability abortion care.” “(The) Sixth Circuit only addressed plaintiffs’ vagueness claims and explicitly declined to issue any ruling with respect to plaintiffs’ claims that the Reason Bans violate patients’ constitutional right to pre-viability abortion,” the attorneys wrote. The court had not issued a ruling on that as of Friday evening.

(More abortion ban stories.)

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