Tennessee’s ‘heartbeat law’ now in effect as appeals court lifts injunction

By Bridget Sielicki

A Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down an injunction on Tennessee’s “heartbeat law” Tuesday, a direct result of the Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v. Wade. With the court decision, abortion is now prohibited after a preborn child’s heartbeat is detected, which usually occurs around six weeks. 

The state passed the law in 2020, but it was blocked by the courts immediately after Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit just hours after it passed, and it has been tied up in litigation since then. 

According to the Tennessee Lookout, lawyers representing the state in defending the law filed an emergency motion asking the court to lift the injunction mere hours after the Supreme Court ruling on Friday. “The Court should fully stay the preliminary injunction so that the violation of Tennessee’s sovereignty can end today. The lives of Tennessee children are at stake,” they argued.

The court came back with a one-sentence order Tuesday. “In light of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization… and with the parties’ consent, we vacate the district court’s preliminary injunction issued on July 24, 2020, see Memphis Center for Reproductive Health v. Slatery.., and remand for further proceedings,” the court’s order said.

Planned Parenthood Tennessee-North Mississippi CEO Ashley Coffield confirmed that the business is no longer committing abortions in the state. “We are suspending providing abortion services,” she said. “We can understand your options and get you to support for traveling. When patients call our call center we are screening people for financial needs. We don’t want finances to stand in the way of anyone accessing abortion issues. Our navigator will help you work through those issues. It might be in the form of a gas card or overnight accommodations or more. All of our patients have been contacted and are beginning the navigational process.”

Governor Bill Lee praised the ruling on social media. “The 6th Circuit upheld our heartbeat law, making another significant protection for unborn children in our state. I thank TN Attorney General Slatery for his tireless efforts and commend the Court’s swift action on behalf of Tennessee families.”

The law ultimately may only be in effect for several weeks, as the state’s “trigger law” that protects human beings from fertilization is slated to take effect in late July.

Editor’s note. This appeared at Live Action News and is reposted with permission.