Court Rules Tennessee Can Outlaw Down Syndrome, Race, and Gender Abortions
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Tennessee Governor Bill Lee speaks on protecting Americas seniors from the COVID-19 pandemic in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on April 30, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

A federal appeals court ruled Friday that Tennessee may enact its law making abortions for reasons of a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, race, or gender illegal.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled the state’s abortion “reason bans,” which the legislature passed in June as part of sweeping pro-life measures that included a fetal heartbeat bill, may take effect while abortion rights lobbying groups continue to challenge the overall law in court.

Gov. Bill Lee (R) backed the measure, tweeting after it passed the legislature:

We have passed the strongest pro-life law in our state’s history and I am grateful to @ltgovmcnally, @CSexton25, @SenJohnson, @WilliamLamberth and members of our General Assembly for making the heartbeat bill law.

— Gov. Bill Lee (@GovBillLee) June 19, 2020

The complex bill contained a ladder of abortion bans at two-week gestational age intervals, along with severability clauses for each step of the ladder.

In addition to banning abortions at the time a fetal heartbeat can be detected — at about six weeks of pregnancy — the bill also required an ultrasound prior to abortions and prohibited abortions “motivated by sex, race, or disability diagnosis of the unborn child.”

Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed an “emergency lawsuit” challenging the legislation as soon as it passed.

BREAKING: We are filing a lawsuit — along with partners @ReproRights and @ACLU — to stop Tennessee’s unconstitutional abortion ban.

This new ban comes just 2 months after Gov. Lee attempted to ban abortion procedures during the #COVID19 pandemic. https://t.co/5vJlxXf3PX

— Planned Parenthood (@PPFA) June 19, 2020

BREAKING: With our partners, we just sued to stop Tennessee's extreme abortion ban law.

Lawmakers can pass unconstitutional laws like this under cover of night, but they'll have to face us in court in the light of day.

Our statement: https://t.co/sxluob6Ziq pic.twitter.com/FxSaCCYHbY

— ACLU of Tennessee (@aclutn) June 19, 2020

It is a DISGRACE that in the face of a true public health crisis, Tennessee politicians wasted their time with this last-minute move to attack abortion access before closing up shop this session.

But we won’t let them. https://t.co/baxysKc5om

— Alexis McGill Johnson (@alexismcgill) June 19, 2020

Prohibitions on abortion for reasons of race or sex of the unborn child, or due to a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, are in place in more than a dozen states.

“These bans are just another way anti-abortion politicians are attempting to limit the constitutional right to abortion care and to create stigma,” said Nancy Northup, CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, in a statement. “Decisions about whether and when to continue or to end a pregnancy are best made by the individual and their family.”

“These bans are just another way anti-abortion politicians are attempting to limit the constitutional right to abortion care and to create stigma,” said Center President and CEO Nancy Northup.

— Center for Reproductive Rights (@ReproRights) November 21, 2020

Alexis McGill Johnson, CEO of Planned Parenthood, said the ruling “will cause immediate harm to Tennesseans.”

Planned Parenthood was founded by Margaret Sanger, known for her eugenicist views.

As Breitbart News reported, David Quinn, director of the Iona Institute, wrote Sunday in a column at the Sunday Times that choosing to abort an unborn baby because of a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome “equates to eugenics, which is the elimination of human beings not considered fit or healthy enough to have a normal life.”

Ironically, Johnson criticized that it is the pro-life supporters of such abortion prohibitions who are pushing “racist stereotypes of Asian American and Black communities, instead of pursuing policies that would actually improve the lives of people with disabilities. This is shameful.”

“We remain committed to helping everyone access abortion, despite politicians and courts doing everything they can to stand in their way,” she added. “This fight is far from over.”