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Judge issues restraining order giving TN abortion clinics more time to comply with new regulations

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After just twenty-five minutes of arguments last Friday, U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp placed a temporary restraining order on new medical standards for Tennessee abortion clinics, the Tennessean reports.

Under the recently-enacted law, surgical abortion clinics must meet the same regulatory standards as ambulatory surgical treatment centers. Four abortion clinics in the state already qualify, but The Women’s Center in Nashville and the Bristol Regional Women’s Center were in danger of having to close down by July 1.

The abortion centers complained that the applications for the new licensing and approval were not made available until June 16, making it impossible to fit a potentially months-long compliance process into two weeks. Sharp agreed.

Because the restraining order ultimately concerned the logistics of the time frame, it alone is unlikely to have significant ramifications for clinic regulations in other states, though it remains to be seen whether the court will side with abortionists’ argument that regulating abortion clinics places an “undue burden” on women when the case resumes on July 9.

The abortionists’ suit is also challenging Tennessee’s requirements that abortionists obtain hospital admitting privileges and that women seeking abortion wait 48 hours after receiving physician counseling on the decision. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the US Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of 24-hour waiting periods.

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