Repro Roundup: Tennessee appeals lower court’s ruling that the state’s 48-hour waiting period for an abortion is unjust

Steph Black
3 min readNov 5, 2020


Welcome to my column, The Repro Roundup, in which I summarize abortion news happening around the country, why it matters, and what you can do about it — in 250 words or less.

What’s the issue? The Tennessee Attorney General appealed a lower-courts decision that the state's 48-hour waiting period is unconstitutional according to NBC. The AG has asked the Court to keep the waiting period in place while the case is decided in a Federal court. The law was struck down last month and the District judge ruled the waiting period does not serve any legitimate purpose and places an undue burden on those who are trying to obtain abortion care in the state. The law requires abortion patients to come in first for a mandatory counseling session — during which doctors are legally required to parrot government-written lies and disinformation — and then return 48 hours later for their procedure. If the physician that counseled them is out sick or unavailable, the patient has to be counseled again and wait 48 more hours before being able to get their abortion.

The law is likely to stand after it is heard by the Federal court because waiting periods like this do not violate a woman’s constitutional right to abortion.

Why does this matter? Waiting periods serve no medical purpose. They exist because anti-abortion politicians do everything in their power to make abortion as inaccessible as possible. Low-income women and women of color are hit the hardest by laws like this one, because taking more time off work, finding childcare, and travel are time-consuming and expensive.

Waiting periods are the definition of paternalistic. People who choose to have an abortion do not need to be put in time-out to decide if they really want the procedure. Women can make intelligent, informed decisions about their own health care and body without political interference. It’s racist and sexist to think that a person would need an additional two days to make sure they want an abortion.

What action can I take?

  • Read my last Roundup about this Tennessee law
  • Discover which states have waiting periods and for how long from Guttmacher
  • Read more about the anti-abortion laws on the books in Tennesee from Guttmacher
  • Donate to Abortion Care Tennessee
  • Volunteer with Healthy & Free Tennessee
  • Clinic escort at a local abortion clinic in Tennessee
  • Subscribe to The Repro Queen of DC, my monthly newsletter on abortion access, activism, and writing on the frontlines of DC.
  • Subscribe to Repro 101, a seven-week educational email series about all things repro. Topics include the basics of funding abortion, clinic escorting, anti-choice violence, and more.
  • Read more of my work, browse the services I offer, and more.
  • Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook or get in touch.



Steph Black

Jewish, feminist, queer. Activist, writer in DC. Pro-abortion clinic escort and chronic volunteer. Get in touch, read my newsletter: