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Tennessee ordered to pay legal fees of abortion facilities temporarily closed during pandemic

Louisiana court

The state of Tennessee has agreed to pay the legal fees for abortionists who sued the state over an executive order by Governor Bill Lee that banned most abortions amid the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020. According to Tennessee Lookout, the settlement of $249,000 was agreed to by Attorney General Herbert Slatery III and five Tennessee abortion providers. It will cover the legal costs associated with the lawsuit.

Bristol Regional Women’s Center, CHOICES, the Memphis Center for Reproductive Health, the Knoxville Center for Reproductive Health, Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi, and Dr. Kimberly Looney — an OB/GYN affiliated with Planned Parenthood — sued against the pandemic-related emergency orders which shut down non-essential medical procedures in the early days of the pandemic. As abortion facilities in various parts of the country were closed due to their lack of necessity, abortionists argued that abortion is essential, and thus filed lawsuits.

READ: Tennessee’s 48-hour abortion waiting period to remain in effect

Executive Order 25 aimed to stop most surgical abortions along with all other elective medical procedures in order to conserve personal protective equipment for the medical professionals who were saving lives amid the initial COVID-19 outbreak — not those choosing to end lives through abortion. The order was signed in April 2020 and abortionists challenged it within days.

A Nashville judge blocked the order from applying to abortion only, while allowing it to remain in place to prohibit actual medical procedures. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals kept the injunction in place and rejected a request from State attorneys to hear the case. The courts ruled the governor’s order to be unlikely to be found constitutional.

“We are pleased that the court has ruled in our favor and covered court costs, but it never should have come to this,” said Ashley Coffield, CEO of Planned Parenthood Tennessee and North Mississippi. “Abortion is essential healthcare. Using COVID-19 as a pretext to prohibit abortion access served no public health benefit and was nothing more than a blatantly political move by the governor and a waste of taxpayer dollars.”

Abortion deliberately ends the life of a human being and therefore cannot be reasonably defined as essential health care. In the event that a mother’s life is at risk, emergency preterm delivery is faster and safer for the mother than an abortion, and if the child is 21 weeks gestation, he or she has a chance of surviving outside the womb.

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