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Federal appeals court stops abortions in Texas during lockdown

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The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay on Friday, halting a decision from a Texas lower court which allowed some abortions to continue in Texas in spite of the governor’s order to stop the procedure during the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order requiring medical providers to cancel nonessential surgeries to save hospital space and protective gear during the Coronavirus outbreak. The order did not detail which procedures were considered nonessential, but Texas AG Ken Paxton stated he would prosecute providers who continued to perform abortions. He announced the penalty for violating the order was $1,000 or 180 days of jail time. The ban, set to expire April 22, includes limited exceptions which include concerns over a mother’s life.

Judges Kyle Duncan, appointed by President Trump, and Jennifer Walker Elrod, appointed by President George W. Bush, wrote in their ruling: “(w)hen faced with a society-threatening epidemic, a state may implement emergency measures that curtail constitutional rights so long as the measures have at least some ‘real or substantial relation’ to the public health crisis and are not ‘beyond all question, a plain, palpable invasion of rights secured by the fundamental law.” Judge Kyle Dennis, appointed by President Clinton, dissented and claimed Thursday’s ruling from the lower court should not be reversed.

“This is a nightmare inside of a nightmare,” Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president of Planned Parenthood, said. “One day patients are called back for their procedures, the next day they are canceled – all at the whim of Gov. Abbott. Abortion is essential because it is time-sensitive. It cannot wait for lengthy legal battles or a pandemic to pass. This political game will have a lasting consequence on Texans for generations to come.” The global COVID-19 pandemic has burdened states to free up hospital beds and medical equipment to ready themselves for virus patients. Abortions are deemed nonessential with priority given to essential services.  A world pandemic, of course, would take precedent and not be considered a “political game.”

The fight comes as other states, including Ohio, Oklahoma, and Alabama, are ramping up efforts to limit abortion access during the COVID-19 crisis. The Supreme Court is expected to entertain arguments in the near future. Liberal media outlets continue to side with the pro-abortion crowd, releasing opinion articles claiming the Texas 5th Circuit abortion ruling reveals how the GOP using COVID-19 to oppress women.

Others complained about Gov. Abbott’s order, worried about the inconvenience his ruling placed on women seeking abortions.

The political domain over the abortion issue remains in place, even while the country is enduring a global pandemic. While people are experiencing stress over the safety of their families, their jobs, and their economic well being, advocates for abortion in Texas continue to vocalize their displeasure with Gov. Abbott, albeit as an online presence due to social distancing guidelines. The pandemic continues to take a back seat to their priorities.


Julie Armstrong


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