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Reuters/Pro-choice activists assemble in Memphis, Tennessee
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Reuters/Pro-choice activists assemble in Memphis, Tennessee
USA News

Appeals court blocks Tennessee six week abortion law

by Premier Journalist

A federal court of appeals has blocked Tennessee's attempt at a six-week abortion ban after it was stopped by the initial injunction.

In 2020, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed into law their version of a "heartbeat bill," a legal concept that bans abortions after the six-week mark.

The sixth week is when pro-life advocates argue that the heartbeat is detectable. While Lee signed the bill into law, one of the District Court issued an injunction against the law in question, which stopped it from coming into effect. Now the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed that injunction, stating that the six-week ban is "constitutionally unsound."

"Although this circuit's recent - and alarming - decisions have broadened the extent to which the Government may impede a person's constitutional right to choose whether to carry a pregnancy to term," writes the three-judge panel, "the law remains clear that if a regulation is a substantial obstacle to a woman seeking an abortion, it is invalid." 

The original law not only banned abortions after the six-week mark but also penalized any physicians who helped with an abortion if it was sought for reasons related to the fetus' race, sex, or diagnosis of Down syndrome.

At least eleven states have attempted to pass some form of heartbeat bill in recent years. The legal premise became popular in 2019. Several Republican lawmakers filed their versions of the bill to their local legislatures, including Texas.

However, all of the attempted laws except Texas were not allowed to become law through court intervention. The Texas law was able to pass due to its reliance on private citizens enforcing the abortion ban rather than law enforcement.

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