6th Circuit upholds Tennessee law banning abortions performed because the baby is diagnosed with Down syndrome

By Dave Andrusko

On Friday the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals gave the state of Tennessee a big victory when a three-judge panel ruled the state could begin enforcing a ban on abortion, except to save the mother’s life, when the abortionist knows that the woman is seeking the abortion because of the child’s sex or race or if he knows the woman is seeking an abortion because of a diagnosis of Down syndrome.

According to Kimberlee Kruesi of The Associated Press, Samantha Fisher, a spokesperson for the attorney general’s office, issued a statement saying they “appreciate the Sixth Circuit (in Memphis Center for Reproductive Health v. Slatery) lifting the lower court’s injunction” and looked forward to continuing defending the statute.”

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, who vowed earlier in the year that he will do “whatever it takes in court” to defend the omnibus House Bill 2263/Senate Bill 2196  abortion measure, said

“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,” adding, “Protecting our most vulnerable Tennesseans is worth the fight.”

Naturally, the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing abortion providers in Tennessee, 

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.”

There is a separate injunction against another portion of the law which would ban abortion starting as early as six weeks which was not addressed by Friday’s decision rendered by Senior Judge Eugene E. Siler, Jr. and Judge Amul Roger Thapar. Judge Eric L. Clay dissented.

However, House Bill 2263/Senate Bill 2196 is written in such a fashion that if the six-week ban is stricken, the legislation goes on to “automatically enact abortion bans at eight, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23 and 24 weeks of gestation,” according to The Tennessean.

As we reported previously, no sooner was the law signed by Gov. Lee than a clearly-sympathetic U.S. District Judge William Campbell immediately granted a temporary restraining order. Judge Campbell cited the preferred pro-abortion rationale—the law represented an “undue burden.”