Appeals court blocks Tennessee Down syndrome abortion ban

Appeals court blocks Tennessee Down syndrome abortion ban


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A panel of federal judges reversed course Friday and blocked a Tennessee restriction that outlaws abortions because of a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, or because of the race or gender of the fetus. The ruling also kept a six-week abortion ban blocked.

Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee enacted the restrictions last 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.

In its multipronged decision, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati affirmed previous rulings that have blocked the state’s six-week abortion ban. The law states that if the six-week ban is deemed unconstitutional — a time frame when most people don’t know they’re pregnant — then the ban would begin at various other gestational stages.

“We take note that state legislatures recently have passed more anti-abortion regulations than perhaps at any other time in this country’s history. However, this development is not a signal to the courts to change course," Senior Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey wrote for the majority. "It is, in fact, just the opposite. The judiciary exists as a check on majoritarian rule.”

Abortion rights groups said the decisions bring some relief in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court allowing Texas' near-ban on abortions to take effect. The U.S. Department of Justice has sued over the Texas law, which allows any private citizen to sue Texas abortion providers who violate the law, as well as anyone who “aids or abets” a woman or girl getting the procedure. The two Tennessee restrictions include felony penalties for physicians found in violation.

“The court of...

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