Tennessee Court of Appeals upholds law banning abortions for Down syndrome

On Friday, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a ruling allowing a portion of Tennessee’s 2020 pro-life legislation, signed into law by Governor Bill Lee, to take effect. The Court ruled on parts of the legislation that are collectively referred to as the “reason bans” because they prohibit abortions for certain reasons. Those reasons include aborting due to a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome, or because the preborn child is not the gender or race that the mother or both parents wanted. The abortion providers’ lawsuit requested an injunction preventing the enforcement of the reason bans while the case was being litigated. Friday’s 2-1 ruling against the abortion providers means that the reason bans will take effect while litigation continues.

Abortion providers, along with Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, sued the state, alleging that the law was too vague. Center for Reproductive Rights’ president and CEO Nancy Northup insisted that “These 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.”

Separately, an injunction remains in place against another portion of the legislation banning abortions performed after six weeks.

READ: Tennessee House rep removed from his party for opposing abortion

After the court’s decision, the abortion providers immediately applied for a temporary restraining order, claiming, “Plaintiffs urgently need relief from this Court to ensure that their patients are not forced to continue their pregnancies against their will.” This sentiment pits women against their children, inappropriately using language of “force” that runs contrary to the powerful, biological bond that naturally exists between women and their children, both born and preborn.

Tennessee’s Attorney General’s Office, on the other hand, celebrated Friday’s ruling, noting in an emailed statement, “We appreciate the Sixth Circuit lifting the lower court’s injunction. We look forward to defending the statute in a more normal process. We don’t think the statute is unconstitutional and the extraordinary relief of an injunction was not warranted.” The statement continued, “Every life is precious and every child has inherent human dignity. Our law prohibits abortion based on the race, gender or diagnosis of Down syndrome of the child and the court’s decision will save lives. Protecting our most vulnerable Tennesseans is worth the fight.”

Live Action News recently reported on an article in The Atlantic raising awareness about the eugenic practice of aborting children because of a Down Syndrome diagnosis, both in the United States and abroad. The Atlantic piece mentioned the widespread ableist mentality that views a person’s value or worth in terms of what they can physically contribute or do. The author queried, “Jobs and college are achievements worth celebrating — like any kid’s milestones, but I’ve wondered why we so often need to point to achievements for evidence that the lives of people with Down syndrome are meaningful.”

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