Tennessee Judge Temporarily Blocked A Section Of A New Abortion Law Over Concerns That It Violates The First Amendment

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Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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U.S. District Judge William L. Campbell, Jr. issued a ruling Tuesday temporarily blocking a section of a new Tennessee abortion law that required doctors to share disputed information about abortions two days before it was to go into effect, saying the section could potentially violate the First Amendment.

In July, Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed in new laws to limit abortions. As part of the package, abortion clinics would be required to post signs in the waiting areas and patient rooms that said it might be possible to reverse a chemical abortion. Failure could result in a $10,000 fine for the clinic, according to the Tennessean.

Abortion activists sued, arguing the rule violates doctors First Amendment rights “by compelling them to engage in speech that is untruthful and misleading,” according to the ruling.

Campbell agreed, writing that the law could be a violation of the First Amendment.

“Section 39-15-218 violates the First Amendment by requiring abortion providers to convey a mandated message that is misleading.”

“The deprivation of First Amendment rights constitutes irreparable injury,” Campbell continued. (RELATED: Former Planned Parenthood Director Describes The Abortion That Changed Her Mind)

Campbell said the block could last months as the state hears legal arguments, according to the Tennessean.

Last week, Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk, one of the defendants in this case, said the provision was unconstitutional and refused to enforce it.

“With regard to reproductive issues, the criminal law must not be used by the State to exercise control over a woman’s body,” Funk said, according to the Tennessean.

The executive director for the ACLU of Tennessee, Hedy Weinberg, celebrated Tuesday’s ruling.

“This decision is a victory for patients, who rightfully expect factual and clear information from their personal doctors,” Weinberg said in a statement. “Politicians should not be allowed to force physicians to provide false and misleading information to their patients. We will continue to stand strong against our governor’s attempts to interfere in patients’ right to access safe reproductive health care.”

Claims that medication-induced abortions can be reversed has come under scrutiny by scientists and doctors, who say it’s untrue.

The American Medical Association, which sued North Dakota over a similar law in 2019, called the claims “wholly unsupported by the best, most reliable scientific evidence,” according to CNN.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) said the claims are “unsupported by science” in a December tweet.

“ACOG has consistently stated that medication abortion “reversal” claims are unsupported by science, and has raised alarm over legislative mandates forcing physicians to steer women to this unproven course of treatment.”

A study, designed to test whether “abortion pill reversal” was effective, was stopped early following safety concerns, according to NPR.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, were investigating whether progesterone can reverse a medication-induced abortion after a patient has taken the first pill, known as mifepristone.

However, the study was immediately stopped after three of the twelve women enrolled were rushed to the hospital for severe vaginal bleeding. The study raised concerns about the safety of using mifepristone without following through with the second pill, per the same report.

“Encouraging women to not complete the regiment should be considered experimental,” Dr. Mitchell Creinin, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UC Davis and lead researcher on the study said, per NPR. “We have some evidence that it could cause very significant bleeding.”