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Adams & Boyle, P.C. et al. v. Slatery

Abortion providers challenged a Tennessee law that forced patients, except in case of medical emergency, to wait at least 48 hours before they could get an abortion, excluding the day on which the information was given. On the third day following the day the information was given, the patient may return to the physician and sign a consent form.

The lawsuit was initially filed to challenge three anti-abortion laws in Tennessee, including one 2012 law requiring all doctors providing abortion care in the state to have admitting privileges and a requirement under which reproductive health care facilities that perform more than 50 abortions a year to meet the same building requirements as a hospital-like ambulatory surgical treatment center. The state dropped its claims on those two laws in April 2017 following the United States Supreme Court decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

On April 13, 2020, plaintiffs requested a supplement to the case to ask for a temporary restraining order to block an executive order prohibiting abortions after 11 weeks of the last missed period (LMP). The federal court granted the TRO on April 17, finding that delaying abortions is likely to cause irreparable harm to a pregnant person seeking the procedure.

On October 14, 2020 the federal court struck down the 48-hour waiting period law. In the decision, Judge Bernard Friedman found that the waiting period unduly burden’s a woman’s right to abortion and “is an affront to their ‘dignity and autonomy,’ ‘personhood’ and ‘destiny,’ and ‘conception of . . . [their] place in society.’”

“Defendants’ suggestion that women are overly emotional and must be required to cool off or calm down before having a medical procedure they have decided they want to have, and that they are constitutionally entitled to have, is highly insulting and paternalistic – and all the more so given that no such waiting periods apply to men,” wrote Bernard.

Related Legislation

SB 1222

Key Documents

Complaint filed October 25, 2015

Order Granting TRO entered April 17, 2020

District Court Decision on 48-Hour Delay