(REVISED 09.13.2019) This lawsuit was filed as a challenge to three unconstitutional Tennessee measures designed to close reproductive health care clinics and make abortion harder to obtain.
The two clinic shutdown laws challenged, one passed in 2012 that would have required all doctors providing abortion care in Tennessee to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital and a newer requirement that would have forced reproductive health care facilities that provide more than 50 surgical abortions per year to meet the same building requirements as a hospital-like ambulatory surgical treatment center (ASTC), have been permanently enjoined thanks to the Center's litigation. The State dropped its defense of the two laws in April 2017, nine months after the United States Supreme Court struck down two nearly-identical Texas clinic shutdown laws as unconstitutional in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt.
Tennessee health care providers are continuing their challenge to a requirement that forces women to delay care by 48 hours and make two trips to their health care provider in order to obtain safe and legal abortion services.
Plaintiff(s): Adams & Boyle, PC; Memphis Center for Reproductive Health; Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region; Planned Parenthood of East and Middle Tennessee
Center Attorney(s): Autumn Katz
Co-Counsel/Cooperating Attorneys: Planned Parenthood Federation of America; Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP; Barrett Johnston Martin & Garrison, LLC; Jessee & Jessee
Summary: The Center filed a lawsuit in federal court on June 25, 2015, challenging the ASTC and admitting privileges requirements and the 48 hour waiting period. The plaintiffs asked the court to immediately block the ASTC requirement to ensure all existing clinics could continue to offer safe and legal care as the legal challenge to all three restrictions proceeds. On June 26, the district court issued a temporary restraining order blocking the ASTC requirement. A follow-up hearing took place on August 13, and the district court entered a preliminary injunction against the criminal enforcement of the ASTC requirement, allowing the existing clinics that were in danger of closing to remain open as the case continues. On December 17, the district court issued a stay of the case, placing it on hold until the Supreme Court issued a decision in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, the Center's challenge to similar clinic shutdown laws in Texas.
Nine months after the Supreme Court's historic ruling striking down the Texas laws and affirming a woman's right to safe, legal abortion, the State agreed to drop its defense of the admitting privileges and ASTC requirements and the court permanently blocked the requirements on April 14, 2017.
The Center is continuing to litigate the challenge to the waiting period requirement. Trial will take place in September 2019.