Willkie Joins ACLU in Lawsuit Over Anti-Abortion Ordinance

December 24, 2019

Willkie, The ACLU and the ACLU of Tennessee brought the challenge on behalf of Carafem, a national network of reproductive health care clinics.

On December 18, it was announced that Willkie joined with the ACLU and ACLU of Tennessee to initiate a lawsuit against the city of Mt. Juliet, Tennessee in federal court over a zoning ordinance that bans the provision of surgical abortion care within the city limits.

The challenge is being brought on behalf of Carafem, a national network of reproductive health care clinics. Carafem currently provides medication abortion care in Mt. Juliet, and intended to expand its practice to include surgical abortion. When the city learned of these plans, municipal officials quickly passed a zoning ordinance to directly obstruct the clinic’s ability to provide the care. The law has already forced carafem to turn patients away who are not candidates for medication abortion, and is expected will push abortion care out of reach for yet more Tennesseans if the law is not struck down.

Andrew Beck, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project said: “This ordinance does nothing to protect the health or safety of patients — it is singularly focused and politically motivated by an anti-abortion agenda. This ordinance is unconstitutional, and we will do everything we can to see it struck down.”

The case is before the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee – Nashville Division. The Willkie team is being led by partners Elizabeth Gray and Heather Schneider and includes associates Tara Thieme, Vanessa Richardson, Devon Edwards and Sruti Swaminathan.

Read: The ACLU’s December 18, 2019 Press Release

Read: The Complaint Filed in FemHealth USA Inc. v. City of Mount Juliet

Read: “Tennessee town sued over ordinance targeting abortion clinic” (The Washington Post, 12/18/2019)