Jun 28, 2022 - News

Tennessee's six-week ban goes into effect

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Abortions in Tennessee are now outlawed starting at about six weeks into a pregnancy.

  • A federal appeals court allowed the six-week ban to go into effect following the ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court last week that overturned Roe v. Wade.

Flashback: Lawmakers initially passed the six-week ban in 2020, but it was held back by a preliminary injunction while a legal challenge was underway.

Driving the news: The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday vacated the injunction, allowing the law to take effect.

State of play: Tennessee already had a "trigger law" designed to bar abortions in almost all cases if Roe v. Wade was overturned. But that law includes a 30-day waiting period that will start after the Supreme Court's official judgement, which should happen by mid-July, before the ban goes into effect.

  • Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery acted quickly to restrict abortions in the meantime.
  • His office filed an emergency motion Friday urging the federal appeals court to allow the 2020 law to take effect immediately, based on the new Supreme Court ruling.
  • Abortion providers acknowledged the Supreme Court ruling had changed the legal landscape and did not fight lifting the injunction.

Between the lines: The 2020 law makes it a crime to perform an abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually six weeks into gestation.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that the trigger law will take effect 30 days after the U.S. Supreme Court issues its judgment on Dobbs, which should occur by next month. Tennessee Attorney General Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III's office originally indicated in a filing that the law would take effect 30 days from last Friday, June 24.


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