A judge blocked a new Tennessee law that would ban abortion in most circumstances once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is often around six weeks into a pregnancy.
Governor Bill Lee signed House Bill 2263, also known as Senate Bill 2196, into law on Monday, which included an exemption for life-threatening medical emergency.
Judge William Campbell of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee issued a temporary restraining order soon after that will last until July 27, pending a possible future order.
Campbell argued that the pro-choice plaintiffs, who had filed legal action against the legislation before it had become law, had shown that “they will suffer immediate and irreparable injury, harm, loss, or damage if injunctive relief is not granted pending a preliminary injunction hearing.”
“The Act will immediately impact patients seeking abortions and imposes criminal sanctions on abortion providers. The time-sensitive nature of the procedure also weighs in favor of injunctive relief pending a preliminary injunction hearing,” concluded the judge.
The American Civil Liberties Union, who filed suit against the law along with the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and others, celebrated the temporary restraining order.
“This is a critical win for people in Tennessee who will not lose access to their constitutional right to abortion,” said Anjali Dalal, senior staff attorney at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, in a statement.
“But we cannot lose sight of the big picture: that it took a court order to stop these politicians from pursuing a ruthless anti-abortion agenda in the middle of a pandemic, passing a ban that would disproportionately harm Black and brown people.”
In remarks just before signing the bill into law, Governor Lee defended the measure by saying that “life is precious and everything that is precious is worth protecting.”
“It’s our responsibility to protect the most vulnerable in our community and certainly the most vulnerable in Tennessee includes the unborn,” he said in a video posted to Twitter.
Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser supported the governor signing the heartbeat bill into law, seeing it as part of a broader trend of state-level victories.
“We are pleased to see this pro-life legislation signed into law – it includes some of the strongest protections for unborn children in the nation, and is the latest evidence that pro-life support is surging throughout the states,” stated Dannenfelser, as reported by LifeNews.com.
“As Joe Biden and other party leaders continue to promote taxpayer-funded abortion on demand and even infanticide, we are encouraged that pro-life lawmakers in the states continue to be motivated to promote strong pro-life policies.”