Tennessee leaders defended a pro-life state law in court Wednesday that is helping mothers choose life for their unborn babies.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments about the 2015 law, which requires abortion facilities to provide informed consent to women at least 48 hours prior to doing an abortion, the AP reports.
Sarah Campbell, associate solicitor general and special assistant to the Tennessee Attorney General, told the court that Tennessee should be allowed to encourage mothers to choose life for their unborn babies.
“The first interest is protecting unborn life and that is persuading some women to choose childbirth over abortion …” Campbell said.
However, attorney Amber Katz, who represents the abortion facilities, argued that the law is unconstitutional because it imposes an undue burden on women’s access to abortion, according to the report. She said the waiting period adds another trip and additional costs for women seeking abortions, and more than half of the Tennessee women who have abortions live in poverty.
But Campbell said the law helps women, too, by ensuring that they receive informed consent and time to consider the information before going through with the abortion.
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“The other interest is in protecting women’s health by preventing the adverse outcomes that could come with making a rash decision or uniformed decision,” she told the court.
Tennessee enforced the pro-life law for five years. In October, however, a federal judge permanently enjoined it, arguing that it unconstitutionally burdens women’s access to abortion.
Then, in April, the Sixth Circuit allowed Tennessee to enforce the law again, though temporarily. It granted state Attorney General Herbert Slatery’s request to enforce the law while the state appeals the federal judge’s ruling.
The hearing Wednesday considered that appeal.
Tennessee Right to Life praised Campbell for making a strong argument in favor of life.
“This was in stark contrast to the attorney for the abortion groups, whose main focus was on how the law hurt Planned Parenthood and other providers’ business models,” the pro-life organization said in a statement after the hearing.
Pro-life leaders said the law is saving babies’ lives.
“This common sense policy, in effect since 2015, has resulted in the saving of countless unborn lives and a lack of regret by mothers who had time to further consider her decision following provision of informed consent information,” Tennessee Right to Life commented last fall. “The extra 48 hours also allowed mothers the opportunity to identify life-affirming resources in her community or region.”
Even the AP noted that the law is saving babies’ lives, writing, “A few women were pushed beyond the time when they could receive an abortion altogether” because of the 48-hour waiting period.
Waiting periods give women time to consider information about abortion risks and alternatives and the development of their unborn babies before going through with the abortion.
In 2019, Dr. Priscilla Coleman, a professor at Bowling Green State University, testified that 25 percent to 40 percent of women seeking abortions arrive at the abortion facility undecided. She said her research found that informed consent requirements and waiting periods do help women.
Another study from University of California, San Francisco also found evidence that some women change their minds and choose life for their unborn babies after a counseling session and waiting period.
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