On April 8, 2021, the National Women’s Law Center joined an amicus brief led by SisterReach and law firm Covington & Burling in support of the Plaintiffs-Appellees in the case Bristol Regional Women’s Center v. Slatery before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (No. 20-6267). This case involves a challenge to Tennessee’s 48-hour mandatory waiting period law, Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-15-202(a)–(h). Twelve other groups committed to advocating for reproductive justice and health also joined the brief.
The amicus brief argues that the Tennessee waiting period law is unconstitutional and highlights the multiple ways that the law will harm the health and well-being of Black, Indigenous and other people of color, people with low incomes, and people living in rural areas. The brief first explains that Tennessee’s claim that the law is intended to protect women’s health is disingenuous, as Tennessee’s policies have resulted in some of the worst and most racially inequitable maternal and infant health outcomes in the country. The brief next discusses how the mandatory waiting period imposes unconstitutional financial and logistical barriers to abortion care on those who can least afford to bear them. Finally, the brief explains that the law stigmatizes abortion, demeans people who obtain abortion care, and perpetuates harmful sexist and racist stereotypes, including that people seeking abortion care are incapable of making decisions about what is best for themselves and their families. The brief urges the court of appeals to affirm the lower court’s decision to permanently enjoin the law.