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Bristol Regional Women’s Center v. Slatery

Description:  The Bristol Regional Women’s Center is challenging a 2015 Tennessee law protecting women and requiring a waiting period before abortions can be procured. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a similar waiting period in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.


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Thursday, Aug 5, 2021

CINCINNATI – The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit on Thursday upheld a 2015 Tennessee law requiring a 48-hour waiting period before abortions so that women have time to receive and evaluate important health information before proceeding.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the 6th Circuit on behalf of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations explaining that the U.S. Supreme Court has already upheld similar laws requiring a waiting period before abortions can be procured.

“Every woman should have the information she needs to make the healthiest choice for everyone involved in a pregnancy,” said ADF Senior Counsel Denise Harle. “Many women resort to abortion because they feel it is their only choice and then regret the decision for years to come. As the 6th Circuit held, the Supreme Court has already recognized that state governments have the constitutional authority to provide women contemplating abortions the opportunity to receive crucially important information before such a life-changing procedure is performed. Tennessee’s law is a commonsense, compassionate, and constitutional statute that protects women, and the 6th Circuit reached the right result in upholding it.”

“Before making life’s big decisions, it is often wise to take time to reflect,” the 6th Circuit explained in its opinion in Bristol Regional Women’s Center v. Slatery. “The people of Tennessee believed that having an abortion was one of those decisions. So they passed a law requiring a waiting period of 48 hours. Although the Supreme Court upheld a similar 24-hour waiting period in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the district court said that Tennessee’s waiting period violates a woman’s right to have an abortion. We disagree and reverse….”

“Tennessee’s 48-hour abortion waiting period is facially constitutional,” the court concluded. “The law is supported by a rational basis, and it is not a substantial obstacle to abortion for a large fraction of women seeking previability abortions in Tennessee. And the plaintiffs failed to present any specific evidence to sustain their as-applied challenge. We thus reverse the district court’s decision and remand for entry of judgment in Tennessee’s favor on these claims.”

  • Pronunciation guide: Harle (HAR’-lee)

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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ABOUT Denise Harle

Denise Harle serves as senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, where she is a member of the Center for Life. In this role, she focuses her litigation efforts on defending the First Amendment freedoms of pro-life health care professionals and pregnancy resource centers. From 2015 to 2017, prior to joining ADF, Harle served as deputy solicitor general in the Office of the Florida Attorney General. Additionally, in 2017, Harle participated in the prestigious Supreme Court Fellow program, sponsored by the National Association of Attorneys General. After clerking for Florida Supreme Court Justice Ricky L. Polston, Harle joined the law firm of Greenberg Traurig, where she worked as an associate in the litigation and appellate practice groups from 2011 to 2015. Harle earned bachelor’s degrees, summa cum laude, in psychology and interdisciplinary social science from Florida State University. She subsequently acquired a master’s degree in political science from Stanford University, followed by a Juris Doctor at Duke University School of Law. A member of the state bars of California, Florida, and Georgia, she is admitted to multiple federal district and appellate courts.