Planned Parenthood of Middle Tennessee v. Sundquist
South Western Reporter, 3d Series, 2000; 38: 1-52
Court Decision: 38 South Western Reporter, 3d Series 1; 2000 September 15 (date of decision). The Supreme Court of Tennessee held that Tennessee abortion laws that regulate the circumstances under which a woman may have an abortion and that impose criminal liability on physicians for failing to adhere to other abortion statutes are unconstitutional. Planned Parenthood of Middle Tennessee filed suit challenging the constitutionality of Tennessee abortion laws. The laws required that second trimester abortions be performed in a hospital, that physicians alone counsel patients about aspects of the procedure, a two-day mandatory waiting period, and certain medical emergency exceptions. The Supreme Court of Tennessee first held that a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy is protected under the right to privacy and is a fundamental right. The court held the Tennessee laws were unconstitutional because they were not narrowly tailored to further a compelling state interest. Specifically, the second trimester hospital requirement was not narrowly tailored to promoted maternal health because there is substantial evidence that abortions can be performed safely outside a hospital through the first 18 weeks. Secondly, the physician-only counseling requirement was not necessary because it is not necessary for a physician to personally impart the required information. The two-day waiting period was not narrowly tailored to further the state's interest in maternal health, and the medical emergency exceptions was not tailored to protect maternal health, the restrictions were merely to protect her life. Because none of the abortion laws furthered a compelling state interest, they did not pass a strict scrutiny standards of review and were therefore held unconstitutional. The court permanently enjoined enforcement of the laws. [KIE]
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