A federal appeals court gave the state of Tennessee great news late Friday when it issued a ruling that the Volunteer State can ban abortions done specifically because a baby has Down syndrome.
Earlier this year, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a broad pro-life law to protect unborn babies from abortions once their heartbeats are detectable.
Though the legislation is described as a heartbeat bill, it includes many different measures to protect unborn babies. The law passed the state legislature in June, and pro-life lawmakers said they wrote the bill to withstand a legal challenge.
The heartbeat portion of the bill prohibits abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy. It also includes other levels of restriction going up from eight weeks to 24 weeks of pregnancy, which would go into effect depending on what a court may strike down, the report states.
The bill also bans discriminatory abortions based on the unborn baby’s sex, race or a Down syndrome diagnosis. It allows exceptions if the mother’s life is at risk. Abortionists who violate these bans could face felony charges.
After Tennessee approved the bill, abortion activists immediately took it to court. The law was immediately blocked by a lower federal court just hours after Lee signed it into law.
However, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling yesterday saying that the ban on abortions because a baby has Down syndrome or is of a certain race can be enforced while the rest of the lawsuit against the remaining portions of the law continues.
The Attorney General’s office said in a statement that they “appreciate the Sixth Circuit lifting the lower court’s injunction” and that they are prepared to defend the remainder of the pro-life law.
“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,” Lee said in a statement. “Protecting our most vulnerable Tennesseans is worth the fight.”
Immediately following the appeals court ruling, the plaintiffs’ attorneys filed a request in lower federal court for a temporary restraining order to block the reason bans once again, but this time argued the law illegally prohibits a patient from “obtaining constitutionally protected pre-viability abortion care.”
“(The) Sixth Circuit only addressed plaintiffs’ vagueness claims and explicitly declined to issue any ruling with respect to plaintiffs’ claims that the Reason Bans violate patients’ constitutional right to pre-viability abortion,” the attorneys wrote.
The appeals court will have to take up this revised legal challenge later.
Lee celebrated the legislation as a “historic moment” for the state, when he signed the pro-life measure.
“Life is precious and everything that is precious is worthy of protecting. We know that in Tennessee and I certainly know that in my heart, which is why we worked so hard together with the legislature to make sure that this piece of legislation got done,” Lee said in a video posted online. “It’s our responsibility to protect the most vulnerable in our community, and certainly the most vulnerable in Tennessee includes the unborn.”
The pro-life legislation includes informed consent measures as well. It requires abortion facilities to inform women about the abortion pill reversal procedure and the size and gestational age of their unborn babies. It also requires abortion facilities to allow the mother to hear her unborn baby’s heartbeat and see the baby on an ultrasound.
Overly anxious pro-abortion groups file a premature lawsuit to block the legislation in June – before it even became law. According to WBIR, a federal judge said the court could not consider their lawsuit until the governor signs the law.
Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser thanked Lee for taking bold steps to protect unborn babies and their families.
“We are pleased to see this pro-life legislation signed into law – it includes some of the strongest protections for unborn children in the nation, and is the latest evidence that pro-life support is surging throughout the states,” Dannenfelser said. “As Joe Biden and other party leaders continue to promote taxpayer-funded abortion on demand and even infanticide, we are encouraged that pro-life lawmakers in the states continue to be motivated to promote strong pro-life policies.”
The pro-life legislation could save tens of thousands of unborn babies’ lives and protect their mothers, but the success of the heartbeat ban against a legal challenge is uncertain.
Some pro-lifers have renewed hope that the conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court will uphold an abortion ban and overturn Roe v. Wade. Others, however, are hesitant because of concerns about losing the court battle and being forced to reimburse pro-abortion groups for their legal fees.
The Supreme Court took away the states’ ability to protect unborn babies from abortion under Roe v. Wade, and instead allowed abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy. Roe made the United States one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks.