July 17, 2015
U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp extended a temporary restraining order he issued previously to stop the state from enforcing new regulations for abortion clinics.
During a hearing in Nashville on July 9, Sharp directed the state and the operators of two abortion clinics to continue to try to resolve the matter out of court. He scheduled another hearing on Aug. 10.
The operators of two abortion clinics, the Women’s Center in Nashville and the Bristol Regional Women’s Center, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Nashville challenging a new state law that requires all clinics or physician offices that perform more than 50 abortions in a calendar year to be licensed as an ambulatory surgical center.
In their suit, the clinic operators argued the state did not give them enough time to comply with the new law. At the July 9 hearing, they argued that complying with the law would require costly and extensive renovations and they would be exposed to criminal penalties if they do not meet certain deadlines.
Attorneys for the state of Tennessee argued that the clinic operators should resolve the issues by seeking waivers through the state.
Last November, Tennessee voters approved an amendment to the Tennessee Constitution restoring the state Legislature’s authority to regulate the abortion industry. In the session that began in January, the General Assembly passed two laws affecting the abortion industry:
- Implementing a 48-hour waiting period on procuring an abortion; establishing requirements for informed consent; and providing a medical emergency exception.
- Requiring facilities or physician offices where more than 50 abortions are performed in a calendar year to be licensed as ambulatory surgical treatment centers.
The lawsuit filed by the abortion clinics challenges those two laws and a 2012 law requiring abortion doctors to have hospital admitting privileges.