Federal Appeals Court Blocks TN Ban On Abortions For Down Syndrome

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The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –

A Federal appeals court decided on Friday to reverse and block a Tennessee state ban on abortions due to race or gender of the fetus or a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome. The ruling also blocked a six-week abortion ban.

Tennessee Capitol Building in Nashville

The ban was originally put in place by Governor Bill Lee last year. It sparked national attention as one of the country’s strictest abortion measures.

The decision made by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati affirmed the decisions made by previous courts to block the six-week ban. 

“We take note that state legislatures recently have passed more anti-abortion regulations than perhaps at any other time in this country’s history. However, this development is not a signal to the courts to change course,” Senior Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey said in the majority statement. “It is, in fact, just the opposite. The judiciary exists as a check on majoritarian rule.”

Abortion rights groups praised the group for the decision.

“The court of appeals today rightly respected nearly 50 years of precedent by blocking these dangerous laws,” stated Brigitte Amiri, deputy director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project. “With all eyes on the devastating effect of Texas’ abortion ban, this is a welcome news for Tennesseans and the rule of law.”

Samantha Fisher, spokesperson for state Attorney General Herbert Slatery, says their office is disappointed in the decision and will continue to seek out additional review.

Both the six-week ban and the ban on abortion for race, gender and Down Syndrome diagnosis were all blocked in a lower federal court within hours of Lee’s signing of the anti-abortion legislation package. A 6th Circuit panel later said that the state could continue to enforce the reasons ban as court battles waged on. Two of the three judges in Friday’s ruling were not a part of that initial decision.

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The court says that the reasons ban does not provide physicians with “a reasonable opportunity to know when they are permitted to perform an abortion.”

Daughtrey continued, “As a result of this ambiguity and uncertainty, many abortion providers might well choose to steer clear of anything that could possibly be construed as prohibited conduct, effectuating the inaccessibility of a right deemed fundamental under the Constitution.”

The court acknowledged that a 6th Circuit court allowed a similar ban on abortions due to a Down Syndrome diagnosis in Ohio but noted differences in the two state’s laws. The Ohio law does not include the reasons of race or gender.

While all three judges were in agreement in blocking the six-week ban, Judge Amul R. Thapar dissented on the other ban but said that “the courts should return this choice to the American people – where it belongs.”

“The state legislatures can do what we can’t: listen to the community, create fact-specific rules with appropriate exceptions, gather more evidence, and update their laws if things don’t work properly,” Thapar said in the dissent. “And if the public is unhappy, it can fight back at the ballot box.”

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About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative  ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career.  Most recently, he served as Deputy Directory for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others.  He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History.  Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com

One thought on “Federal Appeals Court Blocks TN Ban On Abortions For Down Syndrome

  • September 13, 2021 at 4:41 pm

    Medicine has advanced thousands of time since the fifty year span the judges refer to. Abortion should be the remedy of last resort. I, for one, strongly object to tax dollars going for abortions when avoiding it is much easier and safer. There are health care issues that an individual through no fault of their own need taxpayer support, abortion except in the case of rape and incest does not qualify.


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