Federal District Court Strikes Down Tennessee’s 48-Hour Abortion Waiting Period

In a frustrating decision, a federal district court determined that Tennessee’s 48-hour waiting period between the initial assessment at the abortion clinic and the abortion itself was deemed “highly insulting and paternalistic.” There is now no waiting period for abortion in the state of Tennessee.

It ignores the reality that many women are pressured in the abortion clinics to get an abortion without being able to contemplate the lifechanging decision.

Judge Bernard Friedman wrote up the decision, stating, “Defendants’ suggestion that women are overly emotional and must be required to cool off or calm down before having a medical procedure they have decided they want to have, and that they are constitutionally entitled to have, is highly insulting and paternalistic – and all the more so given that no such waiting periods apply to men. It is apparent that this waiting period unduly burdens women’s right to an abortion and is an affront to their ‘dignity and autonomy,’ ‘personhood’ and ‘destiny,’ and ‘conception of . . . [their] place in society.’”

As expected, Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi (PPTNM) celebrated the decision.

“With 17 abortion-related cases one step away from the Supreme Court — including one from Tennessee banning abortion at nearly every stage of pregnancy — it’s clear that the right to access safe, legal abortion is under attack like never before,” Ashley Coffield, CEO of PPTNM, said. “So many patients in our region regularly face barriers to care due to a lack of nearby health centers and systemic inequities that make it harder for people with low incomes and people of color to access care. Intrusive, unnecessary, and medically dangerous restrictions like the 48-hour waiting period only make it harder to access basic health care.”

Brian Harris, Tennessee Right to Life president, said, “Not only is this decision a slap at Tennessee’s abortion-vulnerable women, it is an affront to Tennessee’s voters who passed a 2014 constitutional amendment in which allowing a short waiting period was a key factor. Our organization remains committed to seeing a similar statute drafted and enforced during the next legislative session.”

This decision by the courts is disappointing and gives abortion businesses the opportunity to continue pressuring young women to get abortions without being able to discuss it with family and friends.

According to Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood employee, at her former clinic, she and staff members had a rather dirty, underhanded method to ensure that women would schedule or have their abortions as quickly as possible.

“We charged $150 for an ultrasound,” Johnson said in an interview with The Daily Citizen earlier this year. “So, if a woman had a positive pregnancy test, and she didn’t know when her last period was, which was most of the women that came in, we would be like, ‘We can do an ultrasound for $150 bucks and you know exactly how far along you are.’ We wanted to do the ultrasound right then, to get the $150. When we got them back into the counseling room afterwards, we would say, ‘If you go ahead and make your appointment today, I can take the $150 off your final abortion cost.’”

That practice is incredibly coercive, and, sadly, it happens every day in this country.

The judge in the case might have thought he was supporting women, but instead he gave dishonest practices like Planned Parenthood free rein to manipulate women into getting an abortion they might later forget.

Photo is from Shutterstock.

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