Planned Parenthood sues Texas over abortion bans due to coronavirus

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and other groups filed a lawsuit against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Attorney General Ken Paxton and other state officials over an order banning elective abortions during the coronavirus shutdown.

The Attorney General’s Office issued the ban on elective abortions Monday, keeping in line with the governor’s executive order banning all elective medical procedures.

Any woman not in a life-threatening situation who elects to have an abortion, and the provider who provides one, can be fined $1,000 or face 180 days in jail. The order was extended through April 21.

“No one is exempt from the governor’s executive order on medically unnecessary surgeries and procedures, including abortion providers. Those who violate the governor’s order will be met with the full force of the law,” Paxton said in a prepared statement, adding that abortions can only be performed if the mother’s life is believed to be in danger.

“Gov. Abbott and anti-abortion activists nationwide are forcing a legal and political fight in the middle of a public health crisis,” PPFA acting president and CEO Alexis McGill-Johnson said. “Elected leaders are expending valuable time and resources exploiting a global pandemic to score political points instead of rallying to respond to this crisis.”

At a press conference announcing the lawsuit, Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of abortion provider Whole Women’s Health, said, “We cannot sit idly by while the state is forcing Texans to be pregnant against their will.”

Nancy Northrop, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement that “abortion care is time-sensitive and essential health care that has a profound impact on a person’s health and life, which is why it is protected as a constitutional right. Texas is abusing the state’s emergency powers and we are filing suit today to stop it.”

In response, Paxton slammed the lawsuit on Twitter, saying, “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.’ My office will tirelessly defend Governor Abbott’s Order to ensure that necessary supplies reach the medical professionals combating this national health crisis.”

The lawsuit alleges that Abbott’s order, and Paxton’s guidance, violates a patient’s 14th Amendment right to “substantive due process.”

“If the Executive Order is enforced, as interpreted by the Attorney General (contrary to its plain language), to apply to both procedural abortion and medication abortion, it effectively bans abortion in Texas for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency,” the lawsuit, filed Wednesday, states.

John Seago, legislative director at Texas Right To Life said, “Texas Right to Life is not surprised that the abortion industry is running to a federal court to fight against the governor’s executive order postponing all elective surgeries and procedures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Despite the public health risk of clinics remaining open, the shortage of hospital beds, medical professionals, and personal protective equipment, 14 abortion clinics are arguing they should be allowed to go along with their deadly business as usual. The abortion industry has never seen a safety regulation or common-sense health policy they did not believe they should be exempt from, fighting virtually every Pro-Life policy that threatened their bottom line.  Shamefully, they have continued this pattern even during a global pandemic and public health crisis. Texas Right to Life appreciates the work the State of Texas is doing to save lives in the face of COVID-19.”

The state of Ohio is also embroiled in a legal battle over abortion due to the coronavirus, after Attorney General Dave Yost issued multiple cease and desist orders to abortion clinics across the state that continue to defy a Department of Health (ODH) order temporarily prohibiting elective abortions.

This article was first published by The Center Square.

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