Judges Reverse Federal Court Decision: 48-Hour Wait Before Abortion Is Legal

A federal appeals court overturned a lower court decision Thursday that said making women wait 48 hours before having an abortion is illegal.

Judge Amul Thapar began his opinion for the en banc court:

Before making life’s big decisions, it is often wise to take time to reflect. The people of Tennessee believed that having an abortion was one of those decisions. So they passed a law requiring a waiting period of 48 hours. Although the Supreme Court upheld a similar 24-hour waiting period in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the district court said that Tennessee’s waiting period violates a woman’s right to have an abortion. We disagree and reverse.

Thapar — a former President Donald Trump appointee who is on the short list for the Supreme Court — also noted that “Tennessee’s waiting-period law resulted from a decades-long democratic process.”

The court’s decision continues:

Tennessee’s 48-hour abortion waiting period is facially constitutional. The law is supported by a rational basis, and it is not a substantial obstacle to abortion for a large fraction of women seeking previability abortions in Tennessee. And the plaintiffs failed to present any specific evidence to sustain their as-applied challenge. We thus reverse the district court’s decision and remand for entry of judgment in Tennessee’s favor on these claims.

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