Lawsuit filed against the state of Tennessee over abortion law as COVID-19 cases rise

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, Planned Parenthood, and the Center for Reproductive Rights are filing a joint lawsuit against the State of Tennessee after lawmakers passed legislation overnight that effectively bans abortion in the state of Tennessee.

According to the ACLU, SB 2196/HB 2263 is one of the most restrictive abortion bills in the country and will criminalize medical professionals who perform abortions after six weeks and restricts the reason a woman can have an abortion.

RELATED: Tennessee lawmakers advance 6-week abortion ban

The legislation comes as Tennessee saw the highest single-day increase of positive COVID-19 cases on Friday, growing by nearly 1,200 new cases and just two months after Governor Bill Lee attempted to ban abortion procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Planned Parenthood.

The ACLU says the bill also requires a woman seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound, have the doctor describe it to her, and display the images so that she can see them.

“The Tennessee General Assembly’s passage of this dangerous, flatly unconstitutional bill is unacceptable,” said ACLU-TN Executive Director Hedy Weinberg, “Lawmakers used this measure in a game of political maneuvering to pass the state budget — pushing it through without regard for the actual Tennesseans who will be denied access to the care they need including abortion.”

The ACLU contends that lack of access to abortion care will harm those “struggling financially and those who already face significant barriers to health care, including people of color, people with limited incomes, rural people and young people.”

“Politicians should not be deciding what is best for women and certainly not making reproductive health care decisions for them. As promised, we will see them in court,” said Weinberg.

The bill, which was passed well into the early morning hours Friday, was praised by the Senate GOP Caucus on Twitter.

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