Judges block temporary abortion bans in Texas, Alabama, Ohio

Planned Parenthood
Planned Parenthood South Austin Health Center is seen following the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down a Texas law requiring abortion clinics to meet basic health and safety standards, Austin, Texas, June 27, 2016. |

Courts have issued blocks against measures taken in Alabama, Ohio, and Texas that were aimed at temporarily banning elective abortions during the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. District Court Judge Lee Yeakel ruled against Texas’ temporary ban, arguing in a decision released Monday that it caused “irreparable harm” to those seeking an abortion.

“Regarding a woman's right to a pre-fetal-viability abortion, the Supreme Court has spoken clearly,” ruled Yeakel.

“There can be no outright ban on such a procedure. 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 on the abortion ban will be in place until April 13, when a court hearing via phone will take place, reported local media outlet KUT.

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 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.”

Finally, an Ohio order was ruled unconstitutional if the order “prevents abortions from being carried out."

The litigation against the orders came from pro-choice groups including Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Center for Reproductive Rights.

“Without injunctive relief, Plaintiffs will be forced to continue turning away patients seeking abortion care,” warned the lawsuit filed against Texas’ order last week.

“Not only will these patients be deprived of their constitutional right to essential healthcare and self-determination, but forcing them to continue their pregnancies will in fact impose far greater strains on an already-taxed healthcare system …”

Proponents of the temporary bans on elective abortions have argued that such measures are necessary to free up much-needed medical supplies for combating the coronavirus pandemic.

“[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,’” said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in a statement last week.

“My office will tirelessly defend Governor Abbott’s Order to ensure that necessary supplies reach the medical professionals combating this national health crisis.”

Alexandra DeSanctis of the conservative publication National Review took issue with the rulings, arguing that they “underscore exactly how damaging the prevailing abortion jurisprudence is.”

“Even at a time of national crisis, as states exercise great discretion and authority to allocate resources as they see fit and shut down hundreds of thousands of non-essential businesses in order to stop the spread of disease, abortion providers are given a free pass from the courts to continue doing business,” wrote Desanctis.  

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