Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Rules Against Pro-Life Waiting Period Law

NASHVILLE, FEBRUARY 20, 2021 - On Friday, February 19, 2021, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a divided 2-1 decision, ruled to deny the State of Tennessee's petition to stay the injunction applied by the Federal District Court of Middle Tennessee against Tennessee’s 48-hour waiting period with regard to abortions. Pending further appeal by Attorney General Herbert Slatery or an en banc review, the injunction will remain in effect until the Sixth Circuit decides the case on its merits.

“This is, yet again, another slap in the face to the voters of Tennessee who sent their legislators to Nashville to enact legislation such as this waiting period and informed consent law to protect pregnant women and their unborn children.” said Stacy Dunn, Vice President of Tennessee Right to Life.

"The Appellate Courts have consistently upheld states' waiting periods and we are hopeful that Tennessee's law will ultimately be upheld. However, the Sixth Circuit's decision puts the lives of countless unborn children in jeopardy until then," Dunn continued.


Tennessee passed the 48-hour waiting period law in 2015. On June 25, 2015, abortion facility owner-operators filed suit against the Tennessee law. The complaint was filed in federal court by operators of Choices abortion facility in Memphis and owners of unlicensed abortion centers in Bristol and Nashville. New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights is representing the abortion facilities and Tennessee's Attorney General is defending the constitutionality of the protective laws.

The waiting period law was allowed to remain in effect during the court challenge from 2015 to October 14, 2020 when with complete disregard for the health and safety of Tennessee's women and unborn children, Senior United States District Judge Bernard A. Friedman permanently enjoined enforcement of Tennessee's 48-hour waiting period.

On November 4, 2020, Tennessee Attorney General, Herbert Slatery, filed a motion with the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals asking for the law to remain in effect while being appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Link to court case dates:

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