The full Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday in favor of Tennessee's 48-hour waiting period for women seeking abortions, arguing that opponents had failed to identify instances where a woman had been significantly harmed by the requirement. American Family News spoke with Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life about the court's decision.
"There is absolutely nothing wrong with providing women with information about abortion before they make that life-or-death decision, and then asking them to take some time – sometimes it's 24 hours; in the case of Tennessee, it's 48 hours – to think about what they have heard," says Tobias. "This is great news for women and babies."
U.S. District Judge Bernard Freidman had said the two-visit requirement posed logistical challenges for patients and clinics that could cause abortions to be delayed. However, the Sixth Circuit disagreed and instead sided with the state's attorneys, who argued that the 2015 law could be struck down only if it prevented a large percentage of women from obtaining abortions altogether.
"This whole case actually surprised me because waiting periods prior to an abortion have been around for a long time," says Tobias. "I would say almost half of the states have something like this in place, so the fact that a federal judge struck it down was actually surprising."
The NRLC leader points out that physicians would discuss possible complications with patients on any other medical procedure – but that the abortion industry doesn't want such interaction between a woman and an abortionist to delay the procedure.
"They don't want a woman to see an ultrasound, they don't want her to know that there could possibly be complications," she continues. "So, there is usually a two-part component in the law: Give the woman some information and then give her some time to think about it – and I'm just really glad that, in this case, the Sixth Circuit understands that."
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Sixth Circuit on behalf of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations explaining that the U.S. Supreme Court has already upheld similar laws requiring a waiting period before abortions can be procured.
"Every woman should have the information she needs to make the healthiest choice for everyone involved in a pregnancy," said ADF senior counsel Denise Harle in a statement to AFN. "Tennessee's law is a commonsense, compassionate, and constitutional statute that protects women, and the Sixth Circuit reached the right result in upholding it."