State AG: Abortion waiting period to remain in Tennessee

Nov 12, 2021, 3:30 PM | Updated: 3:47 pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Pregnant people in Tennessee will continue to be required to wait at least 48 hours before getting abortions after reproductive rights advocates declined to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case, state Attorney General Herbert Slatery announced Friday.

Slatery says the six-year legal battle is now “over” and the contentious state law is “no longer subject to question.”

In August, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the 2015 law, arguing that opponents had failed to identify instances where a woman had been significantly burdened by the requirement.

The decision came after a lower federal court last year struck down the law. The statute 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.

After the law was upheld in August, the plaintiffs had the opportunity to bring the case to be further reviewed by the nation’s highest court but did not.

“We fought to get this law overturned because we recognize the burden the 48 hour forced delay places on our patients; however, that fight came to an end in August when the 6th Circuit made their ruling,” said Savannah Bearden, director of communications for Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi, in an email Friday.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, which also filed the lawsuit on behalf of several abortion providers, did not respond to an email request for comment.

Currently, 26 states require patients to wait a specified amount of time — typically 24 hours –between the counseling and the abortion procedure, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports reproductive rights. Alabama and Tennessee are the only states to require a 48-hour waiting period, while six states have imposed a 72-hour waiting period.

“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 statement.

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.

Tennessee is currently awaiting a separate opinion from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on a sweeping abortion ban that prohibits the procedure as early as six weeks.

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State AG: Abortion waiting period to remain in Tennessee