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Federal judge bars two Tennessee counties from enforcing abortion law

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A lawsuit asking for Tennessee courts to throw out a 2012 law requiring ambulatory surgical center standards for abortion clinics, hospital admitting privileges for abortionists, and 48-hour waiting periods for women seeking abortions, has found favor in the eyes of a federal judge, reports The Tennessean.

U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp has granted a preliminary injunction against the law, which has reportedly “forced the closure of two abortion clinic[s] since it was enacted.”

Says The Tennessean:

The injunction by U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp comes as two abortion clinics, owned by the same physician practice, are working with state health officials to comply with a law that went into effect July 1 requiring all abortion providers that perform 50 or more abortions annually to meet the standards of an ambulatory surgical treatment center.

The law requires both clinics to make certain upgrades in their facilities and establish new safety guidelines. The two clinics — the Women’s Center in Nashville and the Bristol Regional Women’s Center in Sullivan County — are in the process of submitting building plans and taking necessary steps to gain a license that would allow them to meet those standards.

Also reported is the unwillingness of the Nashville-area district attorneys to even attempt enforcing the law:

Neither of the district attorneys had plans to actively enforce the new law, said Steven Hart, special counsel with the Tennessee attorney general’s office. The injunction was issued, however, because neither of the district attorneys were willing to submit a statement saying they would not enforce the law.

This is “the first step in a broader lawsuit” toward challenging Amendment 1 in Tennessee, which passed with 53 percent of the vote after multiple attempts to restore laws that had been struck down in 2000 by the TN Supreme Court.

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