(The Center Square) – Abortion rights advocates have filed a lawsuit over legislation that would prohibit abortions in Tennessee at the moment a heartbeat can be detected, which can occur about five-and-a-half weeks into a pregnancy.
"The courts have long held that politicians cannot interfere in someone else's personal, private decision to end their pregnancy,” Thomas Castelli, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, said in a statement.
“In Tennessee, people of color, people in rural areas, young people, and people with limited incomes already face significant barriers to health care, and they are the very groups that will bear the brunt of this legislation,” Castelli said. “We filed this lawsuit because we cannot allow politicians who want to push abortion completely out of reach to implement yet another law that stands in the way of necessary, constitutionally-protected abortion care."
ACLU was joined by Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights as plaintiffs.
The legislation, House Bill 2263, creates a laddered approach to the abortion ban. If a court rules a threshold to be unconstitutional, the ban will be pushed back incrementally until it reaches 24 weeks.
Similar bills in other states have been struck down in the court system for violating Roe v. Wade and other abortion precedent. Many lawmakers in favor of the legislation have introduced the bills hoping the lawsuits can be taken up to the U.S. Supreme Court and precedent be revisited based on a deeper scientific understanding about pregnancy.
Gov. Bill Lee has expressed support for the legislation and is expected to sign it.