In a major victory for reproductive rights activists, the state of Tennessee has finally agreed to roll back two harmful abortion measures, The Tennessean reported.
The abortion clinic regulations that were struck down were similar to the ones deemed unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court last summer in the Texas-based case Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. One of the measures was a 2012 state law requiring abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges, and the second one was a 2014 state law mandating that clinics meet the requirements of ambulatory surgical care centers, or ASTCs, if they provide 50 or more surgical abortions per year.
On Thursday, Tennessee's attorney general Herbert Slatery III, officials from the state's Department of Health, and the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners said the state would stop enforcing the laws "in light of the Supreme Court's current case law and to avoid the expense and utilization of resources on continued litigation."
The laws that are being rolled back were challenged in federal court back in 2015, but in September a Nashville federal court ruled to stay proceedings in the case. A third measure in the lawsuit is a 2015 law that requires women to wait 48 hours after obtaining counseling before undergoing the abortion procedure. That requirement will still be challenged in the Nashville federal court.
According to The Tennessean, the hospital admitting privileges measure led two local clinics to close down because the physicians were unable to obtain those privileges. At the moment, every abortion clinic in the state is regulated as an ambulatory surgical care center.
When the Supreme Court ruled against these regulations last summer, the majority opinion of Justice Stephen Breyer held that the measures were medically unnecessary and unconstitutionally limited women's reproductive rights.