Tennessee sued over ‘false’ claim to void abortion in new law

A new lawsuit targeting Governor Bill Lee’s controversial reproductive access laws was filed on Monday, centering on medical disagreement over the concept of “abortion reversal.”

The legislation, which Lee signed into law on July 13, would enact some of the most restrictive abortion regulations in the country, including requiring abortion clinics to post a sign in the waiting room and in patient rooms informing people that it may be possible to reverse a chemical abortion. .

Failure to do so can result in a $10,000 fine for the clinic, although this part of the new law comes into effect on October 1.

But there is still no medical consensus on the possibility of this reversal, USA Today found.

The lawsuit argues that forcing doctors to share these allegations violates their First Amendment rights because it is “forced speech” that is based on “false and misleading information with which they are not okay,” insists they refer patients to a government-run website to “participate in experimental and unproven treatments that are against their patients’ best interests,” and go to the contrary to their ethical obligations as medical providers.

“Patients need to be able to trust that their doctors are being honest with them and providing evidence-based medical information, not a biased, politically motivated script designed to shame them. Forcing doctors to share misinformation with patients is cruel in normal times and downright dangerous during a pandemic,” Ashley Coffield, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi, said in a statement.

“And yet they went ahead and passed this law in a desperate attempt to score political points. We have no choice but to fight back because the health and safety of our patients is our top priority. .”

Second lawsuit against new bans

Monday’s filing adds to another ongoing federal lawsuit against the new law. He is asking the courts to block the law before it comes into force on October 1 – in addition to the existing injunction that is currently blocking its implementation.

The new law would ban abortions after the time a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks, and if the doctor knows the woman is seeking an abortion because of gender, race or birth syndrome. Down of the child.

The laws also make it a Class C felony for a doctor to perform an abortion in any of these situations.

Similar abortion cancellation laws were blocked last year in North Dakota and Oklahoma, after eight states passed similar measures, the Center for Reproductive Rights reported. The others include Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, South Dakota, Nebraska and Utah.

The new lawsuit involves parties similar to those in the previous lawsuit: Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi, Memphis Center for Reproductive Health, Knoxville Center for Reproductive Health, and FemHealth (or carafem) — all on behalf of them, their doctors, and their clients. Planned Parenthood doctor Audrey Lance also filed a lawsuit.

The plaintiffs are represented by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Tennessee.

They are suing the state attorney general, heads of the state health department, and district attorneys general for Davidson, Shelby, Knox, and Wilson counties.

“By forcing plaintiffs to communicate a government-mandated message with which they and the overwhelming consensus of the medical profession disagree, and to present abortive patients with false, misleading and irrelevant information, the law violates the First Amendment right of plaintiffs and their staff and physicians against forced speech, as well as their patients’ right to privacy under the Fourteenth Amendment,” the new lawsuit argues.

Injunction already on file

District Judge William L. Campbell halted the rollout of abortion restrictions less than an hour after Lee signed the measure in mid-July by issuing a temporary restraining order in the separate lawsuit. . Campbell then issued a preliminary injunction preventing the state from enforcing the law while the courts decide the case.

The state appealed Campbell’s decision.

“This law is a blatant violation of free speech. Forcing doctors to lie to their patients is unconstitutional and dangerous. Increasingly, politicians are using doctors as pawns in the attack on abortion – that whether through laws like this that force providers to give false information about abortion, or policies like the Title X gag rule that prevent doctors from openly discussing abortion with their patients,” said Rebecca Terrell, executive director of the Memphis Center for Reproductive Health, in a statement.

The new law isn’t Tennessee’s only limit on abortion in federal courts.

This latest push against state efforts this year added to a longstanding lawsuit against Tennessee’s required 48-hour waiting period before an abortion. She remains pending before a federal judge, as she has for five years.

“Governor Lee strongly believes that we must protect the rights of the most vulnerable in our state, and there is no one more vulnerable than the unborn child,” Lee spokesman Gillum Ferguson said Monday. “We look forward to defending this law in court to protect the dignity of every human life in Tennessee.”

A request for comment has been sent to the Attorney General’s office.

Contact journalist Mariah Timms at [email protected] or 615-259-8344 and on Twitter @MariahTimms.

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