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Tennessee appeals decision saying it must allow abortions during COVID-19 pandemic

by | Apr 20, 2020

By Dave Andrusko

Friday evening, soon after U.S. District Judge Bernard A. Friedman ruled that Tennessee must “continue allowing abortions amid a temporary ban on nonessential medical procedures that’s aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus,” the Tennessee attorney general office appealed his decision to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals . 

Travis Loller of the Associated Press also reported that the AG’s office asked Judge Friedman to delay his order until the  Court of Appeals had a chance to review the issue.

According to Adam Tamburin

In their motion for a stay, the Tennessee attorneys argued Friedman’s order allowing surgical abortions to continue amid the pandemic “undermines the State’s ability to effectively prepare for the incoming wave of infections and ensures that the virus may continue to spread through the State’s healthcare system and beyond.”

Judge Friedman rendered his decision after hearing arguments from both sides during a telephone conference held earlier on Friday.

In siding with a pro-abortion coalition that included The Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the ACLU, and the ACLU-Tennessee, Judge Friedman accepted their rationale in its entirely

“Abortion is a time-sensitive procedure…Delaying a woman’s access to abortion even by a matter of days can result in her having to undergo a lengthier and more complex procedure that involves progressively greater health risks, or can result in her losing the right to obtain an abortion altogether.”

As NRL News Today reported Friday afternoon

Gov. Bill Lee’s Executive Order 25 (signed April 8 and effective April 9) placed a three-week ban on any medical procedures not necessary “to provide life-sustaining treatment, to prevent death or risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function, or to prevent rapid deterioration or serious adverse consequences to a patient’s physical condition.” 

That includes elective surgical abortions. “Medication” [chemical] abortions are not included.

By way of background, CNN reported that Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey, in an April 10 letter to health care providers, wrote 

that Lee’s order prevents “unnecessary use” of personal protective equipment “that are in extremely short supply, especially N95 masks,” according to court documents.

Veronica Stracqualursi added that Piercey’s letter 

stated that “failure to comply” with the order is a “Class A misdemeanor and may result in possible disciplinary action by your respective board.”

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