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Court Rejects Attack on Anti-Abortion Law

By William Vogeler, Esq. on January 10, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Tennesseans voted abortion rights out of the state constitution, and that settles it, a federal appeals court said.

Fifty-three percent of the voters approved the constitutional amendment, but opponents sued for a recount. The U.S Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously to reject the lawsuit in George v. Hargett.

"Although the subject of abortion rights will continue to be controversial in Tennessee and across our nation, it is time for uncertainty surrounding the people's 2014 approval and ratification of Amendment 1 to be put to rest," Judge David McKeague wrote.

Amendment 1

The voter-approved law says:

"Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects the right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion." It also says elected officials may "enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion."

The plaintiffs contended that the vote was unfair, and a trial judge agreed. Judge Kevin Sharp said it did not comply with certain voting provisions in the state constitution.

But the Sixth Circuit reversed, concluding that the plaintiffs did not show how Tennessee harmed their rights or diluted their votes.

"Not Exceptional"

"This is not the 'exceptional case' that warrants federal intervention in a lawful state election process," the appeals court said.

The decision continued the controversy among voters and in the courts over abortion rights.

In Tennessee, the governor signed into a law a 48-hour waiting period after women receive ultrasounds before they can get abortions. The Sixth Circuit struck that law, and the Seventh Circuit if considering a similar law in Indiana.

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood is facing defunding in Arkansas and other states in the Eighth Circuit. Federal courts have blocked similar efforts in Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.

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