Reason Roundup

Tennessee Can Enforce Ban on Abortion Based on Sex, Race, or Down Syndrome Status of Fetus

Plus: More losses for the Trump campaign, a win for cannabis delivery services, a ban on LGBTQ conversion therapy violates First Amendment rights, and more...


Tennessee can start enforcing a law that criminalizes abortions occurring for non-state-approved reasons. After a lower court temporarily blocked the full measure over the summer, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday that the state may go ahead with the part of the law banning abortion based on the sex or race of the fetus or its likelihood to have Down syndrome. Performing an abortion under these prohibited circumstances could lead to 15 years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

"Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee enacted the so-called 'reason bans' earlier this year as part of a sweeping anti-abortion measure," notes the Associated Press. "The law gained national attention because it banned abortion as early as six weeks—making it one of the strictest in the country—but it included several other anti-abortion components."

A judge temporarily blocked enforcement of the law not long after it was signed in July.

The new 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling does not totally undo the lower court's decision. Tennessee is still barred from enforcing the general ban on abortion occurring once fetal cardiac activity can be detected. However, it may begin enforcing the race, sex, and Down syndrome part of the ban.

It's unlikely that the state will enforce it, or even that it can, however. As it stands, no one getting an abortion is required to provide a reason why and, even if it were necessary, women seeking abortions on unapproved grounds could simply say it was for another reason.

More than a dozen other states have similar laws on the books, and as far I know, there have been no attempts at enforcing them. What's more, there's no particular evidence that U.S. women are seeking sex-selective abortions or race-selective abortions at all, let alone in significant numbers.

Abortions based on Down syndrome status or other genetic abnormalities in a fetus may be more common, because some families feel financially or emotionally unable to care for a child with special needs. Regardless, these are exactly the kinds of private, personal, and heart-wrenching decisions that should be left to families and medical professionals, not subject to state approval.

"Immediately following the appeals court ruling," concerning Tennessee's ban, "the plaintiffs' attorneys filed a request in lower federal court for a temporary restraining order to block the reason bans once again, but this time argued the law illegally prohibits a patient from 'obtaining constitutionally protected pre-viability abortion care,'" reports A.P.


Conversion therapy for LGBT kids to be allowed again in Florida counties. Florida governments cannot ban counseling and other psychiatric programs aimed at changing people's sexuality or gender identity, according to a new ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. The case we brought by two Florida therapists who argued that laws against conversion therapy in Palm Beach County and Boca Raton violated their First Amendment rights. In a 2-1 ruling, the appellate court agreed, declaring Florida's two laws banning the practice to be unconstitutional. Read more about the case—and why it could be headed to SCOTUS soon—here.


A win for cannabis delivery services in California. Last week, a judge "dismissed a lawsuit that sought to overturn a state rule allowing home deliveries statewide, even into communities that banned commercial marijuana sales," notes San Francisco's local CBS station. "The court challenge raised a fundamental question in the nation's largest legal pot market: Where can you buy it? The state earlier ruled a licensed delivery can be made into 'any jurisdiction' within California."


Disputed states to certify election results as Trump tries to keep up delusion that his case has a chance. The battleground states where the Trump campaign is challenging election results are all gearing up to certify the results—thereby officially cementing Joe Biden as the election winner. "Michigan and Pennsylvania are set to do so Monday, and Nevada will on Tuesday," notes NPR. "Arizona and Wisconsin have certification deadlines next week." Trump has continued to tweet about how he is the real winner and it's only a matter of time before the courts declare it so. But more and more Republicans are falling out of step with the president's propaganda as his conspiracy theory grows increasingly elaborate.


• A third COVID-19 vaccine is showing promising results.

• "The pandemic is increasing child sex trafficking," writes Michael Hobbes at HuffPost, "but not for the reasons you think."

• Nevada is among the latest states to institute new pandemic-related restrictions on dining, socializing, etc.

• Los Angeles is banning outdoor dining now.

• Canada's Supreme Court has ruled "that Ontario's sex-offender registry regime violates the constitutional rights of people found not criminally responsible for their actions by reason of mental disorder."

• Hong Kong pro-democracy activists Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow, and Ivan Lam have all been jailed.