Another provision of TN abortion law blocked in federal court

Gov. Bill Lee speaks at a press conference announcing his sweeping bill seeking to ban most Tennessee abortions in Nashville on Jan. 23, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Another provision of Tennessee’s sweeping anti-abortion law has been blocked in federal court. U.S. District Judge Chip Campbell, a Trump appointee, put a hold on a requirement that would have gone into effect on Thursday to require patients be informed about “abortion reversal.” He previously blocked other elements of the law seeking to ban most abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected.

The plaintiffs argued the law would violate abortion providers’ First Amendment rights by requiring them to convey “scientifically unsupported and misleading information.” Campbell said he was unable to fully assess competing expert opinions about whether such reversals are possible, but said he plans to hear what expert witnesses have to say on the matter during a hearing scheduled for Oct. 13.

But Campbell said he did not have to wait to find one aspect of the law misleading: A requirement for the state Department of Health to post information about the reversal of chemical abortions on its website within 90 days of the law going into effect, meaning there would be up to three-month delay between when such signage had to be posted and when information must be made available. No details had yet been posted on the Health Department site as of Tuesday, Campbell said.

Here’s a release from the American Civil Libertarian Union, which sued to block to the law:

NASHVILLE — Yesterday, a federal district court in Tennessee temporarily blocked from going into effect a law that would have forced providers to share false and misleading information with patients about the potential to “reverse” a medication abortion — an unproven and politically-motivated claim that has no basis in medical research. By passing a law that would force doctors to share misinformation not backed up by credible science, politicians are trying to steer patients to unproven, experimental medical treatments, and erode trust between patients and their providers. 

Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk, one of the defendant state officials charged with enforcing this harmful law, recently filed a declaration with the court saying that he “will not enforce” the new law because it is “unconstitutional” and “criminal law must not be used by the State to exercise control over a woman’s body.” Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery tried to block Funk’s filing.

The law was set to go into effect on Oct. 1, 2020. If it had, providers would have been forced to share this misinformation with patients at least 48 hours in advance of providing a medication abortion, and again after the patient had taken the first medication, as well as post misleading signs with large, bold print informing patients about medication abortion “reversal.” Under the law, providers who did not comply would have faced criminal prosecution for a Class E felony, punishable by one to six years in prison. Facilities also faced a $10,000 fine per day for providing abortions while failing to display the required, misleading signage.

Statement from Hedy Weinberg, executive director for the ACLU of Tennessee: “This decision is a victory for patients, who rightfully expect factual and clear information from their personal doctors. Politicians should not be allowed to force physicians to provide false and misleading information to their patients. We will continue to stand strong against our governor’s continued attempts to interfere in patients’ right to access safe reproductive health care.”

Statement from Andrew Beck, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project: “It shouldn’t be controversial to expect the information you receive from a medical professional to be accurate and based in science. The intent of the law is clear: to shame, humiliate, and deceive people who have decided to have an abortion. We stand in relief with Tennessee patients who will be spared in the immediate term from this medically baseless, plainly unconstitutional law — and we will continue to fight until it is struck down for good.”

Statement from Ashley Coffield, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi: “This law was one dangerous part of an abortion ban bill Tennessee politicians pushed through in the dead of night, as our state was grappling with the beginnings of a pandemic and a reckoning with racial injustice in our communities. After all, this is how anti-abortion politicians carry out the Trump administration’s agenda against our rights and freedoms — without public input and against the will of the people. Today is a victory in blocking another failed policy peddled by Gov. Lee, but the fight has just begun. Every person deserves access to medically accurate information and we will continue standing on the side of truth and science, for our patients.”

Statement from Rebecca Terrell, Executive Director at Memphis Center for Reproductive Health (CHOICES): “Our patients depend on us for honest, evidence-based care. We’re glad we aren’t forced to deceive them with quackery – at least not yet.”

Statement from Nancy Northup, president & CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights: “This law is a blatant free speech violation, forcing doctors to provide their patients with misleading and false information about abortion. We will keep fighting this law until it is struck down for good. There is no credible scientific evidence to support the claim that medication abortion can be reversed. Forcing doctors to say otherwise puts patients at risk.”

Since 2015, politicians across the country have passed similar laws trying to force providers to promote the medically inaccurate idea that a medication abortion can be “reversed” — a debunked claim based on junk science peddled by anti-abortion researchers. Similar abortion “reversal” laws have been opposed by leading medical groups, including the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American College for Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Last year, courts blocked similar laws in North Dakota and Oklahoma. No one benefits from forcing providers to share misinformation with patients, who rely on their providers to help them make informed medical decisions. 
Earlier this year, Gov. Lee attempted to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic to ban most abortions, despite opposition from leading national medical groups. In April, that attempt was blocked in court after a lawsuit was filed by the same organizations litigating today’s case.

Tennessee has numerous additional abortion restrictions on the books, including a ban on the use of telehealth for medication abortion; a mandatory 48-hour waiting period (which includes a requirement that forces patients to delay care by adding a medically unnecessary trip to the clinic to receive state-mandated information); limits on when private and public insurance can cover abortion services; and a requirement that minors obtain parental consent. 

The lawsuit is being brought by Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi, Knoxville Center for Reproductive Health, Memphis Center for Reproductive Health (“CHOICES”), and carafem — represented by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the ACLU of Tennessee.

Original complaint.

Order.

35 Responses to Another provision of TN abortion law blocked in federal court

  • Avatar
    Jack Ward says:

    Having read yesterday’s story that restrictions are being lifted except for masks, where are the masks for the politicians standing shoulder to shoulder in this picture?! Typical behaviour…….good for thee but not for me. Right?

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    Beatrice Shaw says:

    Why is the Governor always making a weird face?

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    MARLE says:

    Or why is the Media only choosing to post the one frame (of the many they shot) making the weird face”?

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    Helen says:

    No Matter is going in the World….Tennessee General Assembly Always take the Abortion First and Only issue…People dying like flies…do they care…..All they care is a pouch for their seed…They claim ownership to the female reproduction system…..You can not own a female….There are many of women that would surrogate to your seed….You are not limited because you do not have a womb….Psalms 16:4, God make everything for himself” So, you must go and find out why he chose women to carry on lineage..Many males have made bad thing happen……And so often, it is the child and mother that suffers….Take care of what we got, then move forward…Many of our is because the Males can not or will not control their penis…..We need Babies to live and look forward,to….I got two great grand babies, I love and live for them…

    • Avatar
      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      “People are dying like flies.” “All they care is a pouch for their seed.” “They claim ownership to the female reproduction system.” “You cannot own a female.” These are the rantings of a gravely imbalanced individual who while I’m not qualified to diagnose her malady, I do ardently hope it’s not heritable so as to inflict her “. . .two great grand babies.”

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      MARLE says:

      Yes, Helen. Listen to Stuart on the matter of Female Ownership. You can only Rent Them; you can’t Own them.

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        Stuart I. Anderson says:

        I don’t understand why you can’t get this straight. A male is free to choose to own or rent as is true in this free market economy for almost all transactions. Now if they follow my counsel, after begetting all they want from a previous unsuccessful marriage(s) they will “RENT, DON’T BUY.” As you can see in this forum, however, a number of men don’t choose to follow my sage counsel so they unfortunately often end up much sadder for that decision

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          MARLE says:

          You need to start charging for advice this wise, Stuart. I hear medical insurance is now reimbursing for tele-counseling sessions where the misbegotten and maladjusted can commiserate with an “I-feel-your-pain”, for profit provider.

          A second career late in life…..I’m lookin at You, Stuart.

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    Taxpayer #314 says:

    It seems that anytime an article even mentions the word abortion, the conversation goes off the rails immediately and winds up in the ditch or the swamp (see above) and sooner or later ole Stewart pops up and starts spouting his conservative gospel to settle the matter. Is it Dr. Stewart or Pastor Stewart? Check his Heritage score before you sign up.

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    Helen says:

    Yes, I have alot of problems……Many of them is because I witness the treatment of female over the years..I don’t have to list them…You already know…In the sixties, I was working in a hospital and I was walking the hall, a very poor pitiful young girl and baby in her arms…It was visiting hours, and I kept, I was on the way to room to help with situation….This Young women, holler at me,
    can you help.” I stop and turned around, she ran up to me and push the baby off on me…She turned and ran out the hospital….I looked at the baby, it was starving to death..I rush to where The Doctor was….I ask to take the blanket off where he could see…..I want to call the police to catch the Mother…The Doctor let her go…..I was shocked,but I stood there holding baby….and the breathes become more faint….I was still and green…but the Doctor the baby was dying and it die me holding it..He took the baby and send me to cafeteria..I don’t remember anymore about it and I never ask about….In hospital, you didn’t talk about stuff…And every year, every year, the first issue that you address is a abortion….like baby most likely it’s body was put incinerator….And this was the time, if you remove a human part, they would for it back and bury….There were people wanted their blood back…You no idea, what is involve in the human Psyche…I went into medical field because I could not spell…as a young person….If you look back,,you can see that….Times have change…What do think about those 3 police in Ky….They were already fearful…and they panic and started shooting…I think that was a normal by the situation they were in…It is time, to started understanding…..

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    Cannoneer2 says:

    Our Tennessee politicians who insist upon fighting this battle should be required to set up an account that’s funded by a percentage of their own per diem/allowance/salary to pay for the inevitable (and successful) legal challenges. Regardless of one’s viewpoint on the matter, action on the state level is going nowhere.

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      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      I believe the strategy is to continue to try to chip away at Roe in order for the Supreme Court to have the opportunity to make its scope narrower and narrower until Roe is gone. The majority of people in Tennessee are Right to Life enthusiasts so I assume they approve of this strategy as they have a right to do. That’s how they want their taxes to be spent so the rest simply have to go along with the plan so long as the Life voters are in the majority.

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    Paul says:

    It’s too bad many of the “life voters” seem to care about the unborn and not the born. If “Right to Life” was taken seriously, we wouldn’t be executing folks on the taxpayer’s dime, letting people die in our underfunded medical system, and so forth. But who expects consistency in the “right to life” demographic, eh? “Right to Life” for me, but not for thee, particularly when it costs money or inconveniences those who are preaching this dogma. I always like to ask the folks who pontificate about this “how many unwanted kids have you adopted?”. It’s usually “zero”. Someone else’s “problem”, no? I mean “I”m busy with my own kids, thank you very much”. And so on.

    “Right To Life” is a great slogan, but it’s hard to implement in real life, no pun intended. Given the current administration in this country and the state of TN, many of us are tired of being lectured to from your supposed moral high ground about who gets treated as the beneficiary of this conservo-topian view of life and who is disposable…..”All Lives Matter Until it costs money” is the basic scheme from the pontificating conservative types. At this point, it’s a bumper sticker slogan and not something many, with a few exceptions who walk their talk, of the folks preaching to us about it actually do more than pay lip service to.

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      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      It’s so cute the way you liberals conflate things that couldn’t be more different. For example, the taking of an innocent life (assuming you believe life begins at conception which Right to Lifers certainly do) and the taking of the life of person who has committed the most heinous, unconscionable murder or rarely endangered the entire nation due to espionage. If you could resist the temptation to do that in order to make a point you may very well have put yourself on the road to becoming a conservative.

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        MARLE says:

        Isn’t it amazing that Paul never considered that there might be a reason why pro-lifers support the death penalty for heinous crimes but oppose snuffing out the human life of a fetus who is innocent.

        Apparently being aware of (if not examining) the arguments of both sides before offering blurting out comments is not hallmark of a “considered opinion” for many, or most. IQ really, really, really matters.

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    Taxpayer #314 says:

    How does one figure into this debate the 200,000 plus deaths attributed to the President himself due to his lack of action/leadership and his widely agreed upon gross mismanagement of the Pandemic. Would you not say those people were innocent? Does the president bear, or accept, any responsibility for these deaths? Perhaps, not all of them but at least some of them? Is that considered Pro-Life? Just asking for my friend, Stewart.

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      MARLE says:

      You really should learn how to spell “your friend’s” name.

    • Avatar
      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      Has Stewart lost his voice or ability to write? Why has he appointed you as his spokesman to ask questions for him, though admittedly you are on hell of an articulate guy? This gets weirder all the time.

    • Avatar
      MARLE says:

      When you throw the switch on the electric chair or suction out an embryo from a uterus….THAT is a direct action that nearly 100% of the time results in immediate cessation of life for the target strapped to the chair in the prison or the doctor’s office

      When you mismanage a pandemic 7Million people test positive and recover with no residual effect and 200K die. And many dispute the outcomes with or without certain management protocols. YOU don’t see a difference? IQ really, really, really matters.

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    Taxpayer #314 says:

    Only in a country where a devious liar like Trump is in charge. No other countries have anywhere near the number of cases or deaths that we have. Mostly the difference is that other countries wear masks and quarantine when necessary and they listen to their scientists not the politicians. Some even use that oh so rare ability called “common sense.” The US can’t do without our bars, gyms and restaurants for a short period of time and republicans refuse to join in mask wearing-gotta keep that freedom alive. I agree IQ matters a lot.

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      MARLE says:

      No other country anywhere on EARTH has as many People over the AGE of 65. This particular virus is relatively Benign in younger adults and children AND deadly in those over 65.

      The US has 56 MILLION over 65 and many of those are in poor shape thanks to the Miracle of Modern medicine keeping them sick, but not dead. In poor countries the death rate is Very Low b/c their population never makes it to age 65

      Japan has 35Million and no other country comes even remotely close to that.

      THAT is why we have so many deaths relative to other countries.

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        Taxpayer #314 says:

        Australia has ZERO deaths from Covid so far and very few active cases – but they trusted their government and followed their scientific advice early on in the process. And their government is trustworthy too – big difference from the ole USA with Trump. Some people do recover quickly but there are is a fast growing group of so called “long haulers” that have been showing severe and continuing problems after months and months of being released from the hospital. Children do get the virus too but at a different rate and we are still learning about that. To be fair, you should compare the US to European countries or developed countries, not poor third world countries.

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          MARLE says:

          On Tuesday, Sept 29, Australian recorded its First Day without a single covid death since July 3.

          They have had 816 deaths as of Tuesday. .Australia has 4 Million people over 65 . The USA has 56 Million.

          The Australian economy is nothing like ours in scope of international business which is how this virus took hold here so seriously and broadly. By the time it got to Australia in sizeable numbers a lot had been learned.

          Do you have any idea what you are talking about.

          • Avatar
            Taxpayer #314 says:

            Australia may be too rural to compare with the US. Take a look at Japan which might be “more similar” for your comparison. Japan just passed 1,000 deaths and the USA has close to 210,000. Look at the numbers adjusted for population and the US far surpasses the rest of the developed world. The US is in terrible shape no matter what country you want to compare them with. Trump admits that he “downplayed” the virus and he knew how bad it was going to be, he knew how it spread and he deliberately hid all that from the American public. He flat out lied to us and 200,000 plus people died, many from his own political party that might have lived if they had been told the truth back in February. The US refused to use so many resources available to control the virus because of Trumps overwhelming desire to keep up an artificially inflated stock market for his billionaire friends and donors. The US continues to suffer needlessly, that is my point. Vote this man out!

          • Avatar
            MARLE says:

            I’ve followed you down enough rabbit holes already. You had me at “Australia has had no covid deaths”. Enough already!

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    Donna Locke says:

    Ah, my birthday month has arrived, and I am about to reach my short-term goal. I would not care, however, if my mother had decided to abort me, if she could have, so she could have had a better way forward and a more personally fulfilling life, since she was 16 years old at the time. I would rather she had that.

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      MARLE says:

      I am grateful to you for writing this. I have read a lot of prose, poetry, fiction and non-fiction in my 71 years; I have seen a lot of documentaries; I have taken a lot of psychology courses with countless examples of real life case studies.

      But this is about the saddest thing I have ever read. Ever.

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        Donna Locke says:

        The saddest thing I ever read was my sister’s autopsy report.

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        Taxpayer #314 says:

        Marle, Taxpayer 314 here. I must apologize to you and other readers for the mistake in the numbers in my post the other day about Australia. I hurriedly read the wrong column and posted incorrect information and you were absolutely right to call me on it. My post should have read that Australia had ZERO deaths “today” (meaning that particular day). Your total number was, and is correct. I was not trying to mislead anyone, I just looked at the wrong column …”Todays deaths” instead of the “Total deaths.” I apologize for the embarrassing mistake and promise to check my numbers a little closer before posting. I encourage you to continue to call out anytime someone posts incorrect information – it makes us all better, which is the point of any of these discussions.

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