An appeals court has ruled in favor of the Tennessee law that prohibits women from procuring abortions based on a Down Syndrome diagnosis.
The law was passed by the state legislator in June, and signed into law by Republican Governor Bill Lee in July. Within hours of its signing, U.S. District Judge William Campbell issued a temporary restraining order against the enforcement of the law.
Governor Lee has called it “the most conservative, pro-life piece of legislation in the country” and made the bill one of his administration’s top priorities at the beginning of the year.
In addition to banning the abortions of fetuses diagnosed with Down Syndrome, the law also prevents women from seeking abortions based on the sex or race of their child. The law also bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which occurs around six weeks.
Tennessee abortion providers immediately filed a lawsuit, arguing that the law is “unconstitutionally vague” and sought a restraining order.
But on Friday, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Tennessee, granting the state the authority to enforce the ban while pro-abortion plaintiffs continue their litigation.
Governor Lee celebrated the ruling on Twitter, writing, “Every life is precious and every child has inherent human dignity.”
President of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Nancy Northup, argued that Tennessee’s recent bans “are just another way anti-abortion politicians are attempting to limit the constitutional right to abortion care and to create stigma.”
“Decisions about whether and when to continue or to end a pregnancy are best made by the individual and their family,” she said.
Likewise, Hedy Weinberg of the American Civil Liberties Union said that the “reasons ban” does nothing to address the root causes of gender and racial discrimination. “We will continue to fight for people’s ability to make their own decisions about pregnancy without political interference.”
Babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome are aborted at staggering rates in the West.
Several other states are also wrapped up in litigation over similar laws that have been passed.