Last week, For Every Mom reported that in some states, like Ohio, coronavirus might actually wind up saving lives as non-essential procedures have been banned in an effort to preserve personal protective equipment (PPE).
Officials in Ohio, Alabama, and Texas banned abortions last week as part of what they say is an effort to halt medical procedures that are “not immediately medically necessary” during the spread of coronavirus, and free up much-needed medical supplies for combating the pandemic.
This week, however, several federal judges have issued blocks against those measures, ruling that state officials cannot restrict abortion providers from offering the procedure to their patients.
“Regarding a woman’s right to a pre-fetal-viability abortion, the Supreme Court has spoken clearly,” said U.S. District Court Judge Lee Yeakel, who ruled against Texas’ temporary abortion ban. In his decision Monday, Yeakel argued that such ban would cause “irreparable harm” to those seeking an abortion during this time.
“There can be no outright ban on such a procedure,” he said. “This court will not speculate on whether the Supreme Court included a silent ‘except-in-a-national-emergency clause’ in its previous writings on the issue.”
The block against the state’s abortion ban will be in place until April 13th, when a court hearing will be held via phone.
U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson issued a temporary restraining order against the order given in Alabama, also expected to go through April 13 as arguments are heard in court.
In his ruling, Thompson argued that the government’s desire to conserve medical supplies does not “outweigh the serious, and, in some cases, permanent, harms imposed by the denial of an individual’s right to privacy.”
And in Ohio, the state’s orders to temporarily ban abortion were deemed unconstitutional by pro-choice groups including Planned Parenthood, The American Civil Liberties Union, and the Center for Reproductive Rights. The activist groups brought forth litigation against the state’s order.
But state leaders are not stepping down from the fight that easy.
Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said the order to forgo all “non-essential” operations for the foreseeable future was not a political decision.
“We cannot allow the politics of things to get in the way of doing what we have to do in a state of emergency,” she said in a statement.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton argued in a legal brief submitted to the court Monday that the ban on abortions is an effort to “preserve desperately needed medical supplies for the health care professionals combatting the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.”
“Medical professionals are in dire need of supplies, and abortion providers who refuse to follow state law are demonstrating a clear disregard for Texans suffering from this medical crisis,” Paxton wrote.
He continued, “[It is] unconscionable that abortion providers are fighting against the health of Texans and withholding desperately needed supplies and personal protective equipment in favor of a procedure that they refer to as a ‘choice.’”
Paxton says he plans to “tirelessly defend” the Governor Abbott’s orders in Texas “to ensure that necessary supplies reach the medical professionals combating this national health crisis.”