Last year, a U.S. federal judge struck down a Tennessee law mandating a 48-hour waiting period before an abortion. Senior U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman, a Reagan appointee, slammed the notion of waiting periods, calling them demeaning and unconstitutional. The state has appealed the decision, however, and is now asking the Supreme Court to step in.
Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery previously filed a motion asking Friedman to allow the waiting period to remain in place while the state appeals the decision — and has now asked the same of the U.S. Supreme Court. Slatery noted that the state’s abortion businesses had been able to comply with the law for five years without an issue, and that numerous other states have waiting period in place, as well.
“Tennessee is the only State in the Nation that cannot enforce its law because of a federal judicial decree,” the new motion reads.
The waiting period was originally in place from 1978 to 2000, until the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that the state constitution included a right to abortion. But in 2015, the constitution was revised, and removed the so-called “right to abortion,” which allowed the 48-hour waiting period to go back into place. That was when Tennessee’s abortion industry, including Planned Parenthood, sued to have the waiting periods overturned. Friedman seemed to side with the abortion industry in his ruling, arguing that the very notion of waiting periods is based on inherent misogyny, as opposed to normal medical practice.
“Defendants’ suggestion that women are overly emotional and must be required to cool off or calm down before having a medical procedure they have decided they want to have, and that they are constitutionally entitled to have, is highly insulting and paternalistic — and all the more so given that no such waiting periods apply to men,” he wrote.
Yet most elective surgeries do have required waiting periods, as do many medically necessary procedures — and they’re often weeks, not just two days.
During court proceedings, attorney Steven Hart, with the Tennessee Attorney General Offices, found that in the three years since the 48-hour waiting period went back into effect, 2,365 women who went to Planned Parenthood for abortion consultations did not return for abortions. This could mean as much as $1.1 million dollars in income lost for Planned Parenthood because women were required to have time to carefully consider all their options.
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