On Friday, November 24th, the sixth circuit court of appeals ruled that Tennessee could enforce its “reasons ban” on abortions for Down syndrome, race, and gender.
The contentious reasons ban was signed into law by Governor Bill Lee earlier this year, but immediately blocked by the U.S. District Judge, William Campbell. The law would ban abortions on the basis of race, gender, or defect (such as Down syndrome).
Judge Campbell, a Trump appointee, accused the Statehouse of crafting a bill which was without precision. He wrote,
“Will the physician be subject to criminal sanction only where the patient explicitly states she seeks an abortion for a prohibited reason, or could the physician be arrested for providing an abortion where the patients file or a referring physician includes a reference to a prohibited reason?”
In late November, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with Judge Campbell and lifted the injunction, allowing Tennessee to enforce its new abortion law. The law may be enforced, but the legal fight is far from over. Abortion rights groups are still fighting the law in the courts and Tennessee’s Attorney General is preparing himself for the fight. The Attorney General’s office put out a statement that thanked the Sixth Circuit and promised they look forward to continuing to defend the statute.
We agree with Gov. Lee that “Every life is precious and every child has inherent human dignity.” The reasons ban is exactly as it sounds, reasonable. It is unreasonable to allow the death of a preborn baby due to that baby being the wrong race or the wrong gender, or possibly having a genetic abnormality. One side of this argument is placing conditions on human value. Gov. Lee and the pro-life side are placing no conditions on human value. Every single life has value, not just certain desirable ones. Every life is worthy, even if that life suffers from some abnormality like Down Syndrome.
Tennessee is one of the most pro-life states in the country, and this win in the federal appeals court just adds to the résumé. First and foremost, Tennessee is one of many states that has an amendment in their constitution banning abortion the second Roe v Wade is overturned in the Supreme Court. They have also banned the sale of fetal tissue, banned abortions after viability, require informed consent from women and girls, implement a 48 hour waiting period, parental consent for minors, and many more regulations to try to safeguard both the preborn and the born.