Court lets Tennessee 6-week abortion ban take effect

Jun 27, 2022, 9:44 PM | Updated: Jun 28, 2022, 2:06 pm
FILE - Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee delivers his State of the State address in the House Chamber of the ...

FILE - Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee delivers his State of the State address in the House Chamber of the Capitol building on Jan. 31, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. A federal court on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, allowed Tennessee's ban on abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy to take effect, citing the Supreme Court's decision last week to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion rights case. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski, File)

(AP Photo/Mark Zaleski, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A federal court on Tuesday allowed Tennessee’s ban on abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy to take effect, citing the Supreme Court’s decision last week overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion rights case.

The action by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals comes before Tennessee’s other abortion ban, the so-called trigger ban, is expected to restrict abortion almost entirely by mid-August, according to a newly detailed legal interpretation by the state attorney general. Both measures would make performing an abortion a felony and subject doctors to up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Republican Attorney General Herbert Slatery filed an emergency motion Friday to let state to begin implementing the six-week ban. GOP supermajorities in the Legislature passed the law in 2020 with Republican Gov. Bill Lee’s backing, and it was quickly blocked in federal court.

Specifically, the ban halts abortion once cardiac activity is detected, which is around six weeks in pregnancy– when most women don’t know they’re pregnant.

“There are a lot of things that I am very passionate about and take very personally in this job that I have, but … this was the most important thing that I could do as governor,” Lee said while speaking virtually with anti-abortion religious leaders Friday, after the Supreme Court ruling.

Lee said Tuesday that the federal appeals court’s decision marked “another significant protection for unborn children in our state.”

It only makes an exception when an abortion is necessary to prevent the woman’s death or “serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.” However, it specifies that a woman’s mental health does not qualify for an exemption.

“Abortion bans rob people of their ability to make the decisions that are best for themselves, their lives, and their futures,” said Ashley Coffield, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi, in a statement. “It is unconscionable that Tennesseans will lose access to abortion in their communities because of this decision.”

Planned Parenthood was not performing abortions at its facilities in Nashville and Memphis on Monday in anticipation of court action to unblock the six-week ban, said spokesperson Matt Anderson.

Separately, abortion provider carafem — which has a clinic in Nashville — announced Tuesday that its staff had been flooded with calls from patients trying to understand Tennessee’s new legal landscape.

“In my more than 30 years in health care, nothing has been as hard as turning away patients from the care they need because politicians interfered with private health care decisions,” said Melissa Grant, carafem’s chief operations officer, in a statement.

An even more restrictive ban is set to take effect soon, according to the attorney general’s guidance Tuesday. Tennessee’s trigger law — set to go into place 30 days after the end of Roe — would ban all abortions statewide, with essentially the same limited exceptions as the six-week ban.

That law requires the attorney general to certify that Roe has been overturned. He hasn’t done so yet, but indicated Tuesday that he plans to do so when the corresponding judgment is filed in the Supreme Court case, by no later than mid-July. That puts the effective date at around mid-August, Slatery’s office said. The law ties the effective date to the judgment filing, not the timing of the attorney general’s action.

Democratic lawmakers at the time attempted to amend the measure to allow exceptions for incest and rape — including rape of a child — but Republicans ultimately spiked those suggestions.

Bans pegged to the “fetal heartbeat” concept — such as Tennessee’s six-week ban — have been signed into law in more than a dozen states. Supporters commonly argue that abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy “stops a beating heart,” but medical experts say those claims are false.

That’s because at the point where advanced technology can detect that first flutter, as early as six weeks, the embryo isn’t yet a fetus and it doesn’t have a heart. An embryo is termed a fetus beginning in the 11th week of pregnancy, medical experts say.

The Supreme Court’s ruling last week is likely to lead to abortion bans in roughly half of the states.

Additionally, in Tennessee, voters approved an amendment in 2014 declaring that the state’s constitution doesn’t protect or secure the right to an abortion or require funding for abortions.

Trigger laws, like Tennessee’s 2019 version, are also being targeted by lawsuits in other states. In Louisiana on Monday, a state district judge in New Orleans temporarily blocked enforcement of that state’s trigger-law ban on abortion, after abortion rights activists argued that it is unclear. The ruling is in effect pending a July 8 hearing.

Tennessee’s 2020 law includes the six-week ban and bans longer into the pregnancy, in the event that the Supreme Court did not fully overturn Roe v. Wade.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

President Joe Biden listens as French President Emmanuel Macron speaks before a toast during a Stat...
Associated Press

Germany welcomes Biden comments in trade dispute

BERLIN (AP) — Germany on Friday welcomed President Joe Biden’s apparent willingness to discuss tweaking U.S. legislation that European leaders say unfairly discriminates against their industries. Biden acknowledged during a visit to Washington by French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday that there were “glitches” in the Inflation Reduction Act, which favors American-made climate technology for […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Parcels with animals’ eyes sent to Ukrainian embassies

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian embassies and consulates in six European countries have received packages containing animals’ eyes in recent days, a Ukrainian official said Friday. Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleh Nikolenko wrote on Facebook that the “bloody parcels” were received by the Ukrainian embasses in Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Croatia and Italy, as well as […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

US cancels trip by LGBTQ envoy to Indonesia after objection

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — The United States has canceled a trip to Indonesia by a special envoy on LGBTQ rights after the country’s most influential Islamic group objected to the visit. Special envoy Jessica Stern was to have visited Indonesia next week as part of a trip to Southeast Asia. The Indonesian Ulema Council issued […]
1 day ago
An Israeli activist gives a tour of the embattled West Bank city of Hebron, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. I...
Associated Press

Israeli peace activists show presence in West Bank hot spot

HEBRON, West Bank (AP) — Dozens of Israeli peace activists toured the occupied West Bank’s largest city Friday in a show of solidarity with Palestinians, amid chants of “shame, shame” from ultra-nationalist hecklers. The encounter in the center of Hebron signaled the widening rift among Israelis over the nature of their society and Israel’s open-ended […]
1 day ago
FILE — South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa arrives at 10 Downing Street to meet Britain's Pr...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: Why South Africa’s president might lose his job

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa’s president might lose his job, and his reputation as a corruption fighter, as he faces possible impeachment over claims that he tried to cover up the theft of millions of dollars stashed inside a couch on his farm. The allegations brought by a political rival have led to a damning […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Greece: Italian embassy vehicle destroyed in firebombing

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — An overnight arson attack destroyed a car used by a senior official at the Italian embassy in Athens, an incident that authorities in Greece and Italy condemned Friday. Italian Prime Minister Premier Giorgia Meloni offered solidarity to the official and expressed “profound concern for the attack against her, probably of an […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Court lets Tennessee 6-week abortion ban take effect