Legal Fight Heats Up In Texas Over Ban On Abortions Amid Coronavirus

The state banned all elective medical procedures, including abortions, amid the outbreak. Abortion-rights activists say Texas is 'exploiting this crisis to ... ban abortion in the U.S.'

4/10/2020 3:34:00 PM

As some governors move to bar elective surgeries amid the coronavirus crisis, the courts have intervened to keep open clinics that provide abortions. That's not the case in Texas — where this week a court upheld GOP Gov. Greg Abbott's ban.

The state banned all elective medical procedures, including abortions, amid the outbreak. Abortion-rights activists say Texas is 'exploiting this crisis to ... ban abortion in the U.S.'

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order banning all elective medical procedures, including abortions, during the coronavirus outbreak. The ban extends to medication abortions.Eric Gay/APtoggle captionEric Gay/APTexas Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order banning all elective medical procedures, including abortions, during the coronavirus outbreak. The ban extends to medication abortions.

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Eric Gay/APGovernors across the country are banning elective surgery as a means of halting the spread of the coronavirus. But in a handful of states that ban is being extended to include a ban on all abortions.So far the courts have intervened to keep most clinics open. The outlier is Texas, where the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit this week upheld the governor's abortion ban.

Four years ago, Texas was also the focus of a fierce legal fight that ultimately led to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in which the justicesstruck downa Texas law purportedly aimed at protecting women's health. The court ruled the law was medically unnecessary and unconstitutional.

Now Texas is once again the epicenter of the legal fight around abortion. In other states--Ohio, Iowa, Alabama, and Oklahoma--the courts so far have sided with abortion providers and their patients.Not so in Texas where Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order barring all"non-essential" medical procedures in the state, including abortion. The executive order was temporarily blocked in the district court, but the Fifth Circuit subsequently upheld the governor's order by a 2-to-1 vote, declaring that"all public constitutional rights may be reasonably restricted to combat a public health emergency."

"No more elective medical procedures can be done in the state because of the potential of needing both people ... beds and supplies, and obviously doctors and nurses," said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in an interview with NPR.'Exploiting This Crisis'

Nancy Northrup, CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, sees things very differently."It is very clear that anti-abortion rights politicians are shamelessly exploiting this crisis to achieve what has been their longstanding ideological goal to ban abortion in the U.S.," she said.

Paxton denies that, saying Texas"is not targeting any particular group."The state's the"only goal is to protect people from dying," he said.Yet the American Medical Association just last week filed a brief in this case in support of abortion providers, as did 18 states, led by New York, which is the state that has been the hardest hit by the coronavirus.

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They maintain that banning abortion is far more dangerous,because it will force women to travel long distances to get one. A study from the Guttmacher Institute found that people seeking abortions during the COVID-19 outbreak would have to travelup to 20 times farther

than normal if states successfully ban abortion care during the pandemic. The AMA also notes that pregnant women do not stop needing medical care if they don't get an abortion.Northrup, of the Center for Reproductive Rights, sees this as more evidence that the ban is a calculated move by the state: what"puts the lie to this is the fact that they're trying to ban medication, abortion as well; that's the use of pills for abortion.

"Those do not need to take place in a clinic and they can be done, taken effectively by tele-medicine. So it shows that the real goal here, tragically, is shutting down one's right to make the decision to end the pregnancy, not a legitimate public health response."

'I Was Desperate'Affidavits filed in the Texas case tell of harrowing experiences already happening as the result of the Texas ban. One declaration was filed by a 24-year-old college student. The week she lost her part-time job as a waitress, she found out she was pregnant. She and her partner agreed they wanted to terminate the pregnancy, and on March 20 she went to a clinic in Forth Worth alone; because of social distancing rules, her partner was not allowed to go with her.

Since she was 10 weeks pregnant, still in her first trimester, she was eligible for a medication abortion. Under state law, she had to wait 24 hours before getting the pills at the clinic, but the night before her scheduled appointment, the clinic called to cancel because of Abbott's executive order.

He partner was with her and we"cried together," she wrote in her declaration."I couldn't risk the possibility that I would run out of time to have an abortion while the outbreak continued," and it"seemed to be getting more and more difficult to travel."

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She made many calls to clinics in New Mexico and Oklahoma. The quickest option was Denver--a 12-hour drive, 780-mile drive from where she lives. Her partner was still working, so her best friend agreed to go with her. They packed sanitizing supplies and food in the car for the long drive and arrived at the Denver Clinic on March 26, where she noticed other cars with Texas plates in the parking lot, according to the affidavit.

At the clinic, she was examined, given a sonogram again, and because Colorado does not have a 24-hour waiting requirement, she was given her first abortion pill without delay and told she should try to get home within 30 hours to take the second pill.

She and her friend then turned around to go home. They were terrified she would have the abortion in the car, and tried to drive through without taking breaks. But after six hours, when it turned dark they were so exhausted they had to stop at a motel to catch some sleep. The woman finally got home and took the second pill just within the 30-hour window.

She said that despite the ordeal she was grateful she had the money, the car, the friend, and the supportive partner with a job, to make the abortion possible. Others will not be so lucky, she wrote. But"I was desperate and desperate people take desperate steps to protect themselves."

A 'Narrative' Of ChoicePaxton, the Texas attorney general, does not seem moved by the time limitations that pregnancy imposes, or the hardships of traveling out of state to get an abortion. He told NPR"the narrative has always been 'It's a choice' ... that's the whole narrative. I'm a little surprised by the question, given that's always been the thing."

On Thursday abortion providers and their patients returned to the district court in Texas instead of appealing directly to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Fifth Circuit's ruling from earlier this week. The district court judge, who originally blocked the governor's ban, instead narrowed the governor's order so that medical abortions--with pills--would be exempt from the ban, as well as abortions for women who are up against the state-imposed deadline. Abortions in Texas are banned after 22 weeks.

In the end, though, this case may well be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court. And because of the addition of two Trump appointees since 2016--the composition of the court is a lot more hostile to abortion rights. Read more: NPR »

The rule seems to be, 'Never let a good epidemic go to waste.' It wouldn’t be like the Dems trying to do these things would it. 👇🏻 Texas is going to experience an elective procedure this November it won’t forget! ‘Abortion-rights advocates charge that Texas is 'exploiting this crisis to … ban abortion in the U.S.'’ That’s exactly what Texas is doing.

Let old people die, said the pro life repubs. All elective surgery was cancelled...abortion advocates affected most Male sacrifice for propagation of their dna-ZERO-Male recognition of female sacrifice ZERO to the negative. Shame on them Why is it always white men pointing their fingers at women as they attempt to take away their rights? GregAbbott_TX SenMcSallyAZ realDonaldTrump senatemajldr GOPLeader RandPaul marcorubio SpeakerPelosi

GOP 'We only care about you until you're born.' Ah yes, COVID-19...Right in the Republican 'sweet spot' where it is too dangerous to allow an abortion but not dangerous enough to allow people to vote by mail. Great, let em fight and wave their tail back and forth like a dragon chomping for it's next prey. Stop having sex without the obligation to raise the child. It is a non-essential service. prolife

can he like stop for five seconds (preferably a whole month) like worry about the pandemic not womens uteri rn No one is attacking church services. The stay at home order isn't specifically against churches, it limits everyone exactly the same. Limiting abortions only limits women. Not the same. Get out of my healthcare decisions. Get out of my uterus.

Stay home. Save lives. In this case, save two lives. Abortions are elective and not medically necessary. If it is, go to a hospital. How sick and self serving. It's beyond sickening. Let's get these freaks out of office NOT PROLIFE. Trump administration successfully pulled your blind soles into his swamp. Do you support a man that has RIPPED FAMILES APART ? pro lifers stand up give yourself a pat on the back welldone,I get protecting the unborn. What about families?

There ain't nothing I can do or nothing I can say That folks don't criticize me But I'm goin' to do just as I want to anyway And don't care if they all despise me If I should take a notion To jump into the ocean 'T ain't nobody's bizness if I do If you're not taking advantage of a crisis, you're not a scumbag Murican politician, huh

Old White men texasstupid and the other side is saying same thing about church services Abortion is murder Nothing like difficult times to bring out true colors in those around us. I mean, why can't they just wait 6 months for their abortions? GregAbbott_TX shame on you What better time to infringe upon civil rights than a global pandemic?

Sophie’s Choice Now do the legal fights in regards of states banning guns sales...DefundNPR Prioritizes I guess. Why ? Abortions are elective and is a choice. Texas deserves the government it has! Amazing how demon like liberals freak still want to killed babies for profit to benefit the Chinese market for parts. Npr support this criminals no matter if is evil or not.

Pregnant women are especially vulnerable to COVID19. In some cases an abortion could save their life. But Abbot puts politics before life. That's called pro-life. Republicans lose the right to say pro life with how they don’t give a damn abt people dying from this virus

What It's Like Trying to Get an Abortion in Texas During Coronavirus'Forced birthing does not sound like freedom.'

Texas teen accused of threatening to spread coronavirus is chargedA Texas teen who police say announced on social media she would intentionally spread the coronavirus has been arrested and charged with making a terroristic threat. Needs some help sad I loathe Democrats.

Exxon Mobil opposes Texas production cuts: letterThe largest U.S. oil producer Exxon Mobil Corp on Wednesday said it opposes Texas energy regulators mandating any oil production cuts in the face of plunging energy prices. Exxon Mobil opposes Texan energy regulators' mandating any oil production cuts in face of plunging energy prices. 'Texas oil producers have been hurt ....' . by plunging oil prices . In other words the $14.7 billion profit just wasn't enough. Wait to see the oil price drop.

Four people hit by COVID-19 at Exxon Baytown Texas complex: sourcesFour people working at Exxon Mobil Corp’s Baytown, Texas, petrochemical complex have tested positive for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, said two sources familiar with the matter. Well I hope they hit it back JEUSUS HOLY CHRIST!! 4 Million people!! Long short 90 days

Fact Check: Yes, Texas' governor has deemed religious services essential amid pandemicTime for a fact check: Yes, Gov. Greg Abbott did, in fact, issue an executive order adding religious worship to the state's list of essential services. Thoughts and prayers. Good luck with that.

What It's Like Trying to Get an Abortion in Texas During CoronavirusThis is the story of one woman's journey in the Lone Star State.