NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) — A federal judge has blocked an abortion law in Tennessee just minutes after Gov. Bill Lee signed it into law.
Lee signed his controversial heartbeat bill into law Monday morning, banning abortions at the detection of a heartbeat in Tennessee. The Republican Governor called the signing a "historic moment" on Facebook Live and said the legislation is “arguably the most conservative, pro-life legislation in the country."
Less than an hour later, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order, blocking implementation of the law. Several groups filed a lawsuit after Tennessee lawmakers passed the measure in June. This comes the same day another federal judge permanently blocked Georgia's 'heartbeat' abortion law, finding that it violates the Constitution
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU-TN, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Center for Reproductive Rights were part of the lawsuit.
The law bans abortions at the detection of a heartbeat - around six weeks into pregnancy. It also requires an ultrasound to be conducted before an abortion and would prohibit physicians to perform an abortion if they are aware that the action is "motivated by sex, race or disability diagnosis of the unborn child."
"These “reason bans” inflict harm by peddling stigma around abortions and stereotypes of Black and Brown communities, Asian Americans, and people with disabilities," ACLU-TN said in an email. "Abortion patients — like all patients — should have the right to make private medical decisions with their families and their doctors, without interference from politicians."
“Banning abortion is blatantly unconstitutional, and the lawmakers who passed this law are well aware,” said Jessica Sklarsky, senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “It is unconscionable that — in the middle of a public health crisis and a national reckoning on systemic racism — lawmakers are focused on trying to eliminate access to abortion. Abortion is an essential health service, and this law clearly violates the constitutional rights of patients and disproportionately harms communities of color. Tennessee should stop attacking reproductive healthcare and instead work to implement policies that will help marginalized communities. This law does the exact opposite.”
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