Federal Judges: Elective Abortions a ‘Constitutional Right’ During Coronavirus Pandemic

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Federal judges in three states have blocked orders suspending elective abortions in order to preserve medical essentials such as personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare professionals who are treating victims of the infection caused by the coronavirus.

The orders that elective abortions must continue in Texas, Alabama, and Ohio come after Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers filed lawsuits challenging the suspensions of the procedure. While Planned Parenthood continues to refer to abortion as a “choice,” during this time when all medical equipment has been needed for healthcare workers treating patients with the coronavirus infection, the group is claiming elective abortion is “essential.”

“The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects a woman’s right to choose an abortion,” Judge Lee Yeakel of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote, reported the Dallas News.

Yeakel said that “before fetal viability outside of the womb, a state has no interest sufficient to justify an outright ban on abortions,” and added abortion providers would “suffer irreparable harm” if Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s order suspending the procedure were allowed to proceed.

In response to Yeakel’s order, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement posted to his website:

I am deeply disappointed that the court ruled against the health and safety of Texans. My office is seeking prompt appellate review to ensure that medical professionals on the frontlines have the supplies and protective gear they desperately need. We will fight tirelessly against this politically-driven lawsuit to protect the health of Texans suffering from this COVID-19 crisis.

In his brief filed to enforce Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) order halting elective medical procedures, including abortions, Paxton said:

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. All Texans must work together to stop the spread of COVID-19. My office will continue to defend Governor Abbott’s Order to ensure that supplies and personal protective gear reach the hardworking medical professionals who need it the most during this health crisis.

Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement in response to Yeakel’s ruling:

Abortion is an essential, time-sensitive medical service that cannot be delayed. To politicians and anti-abortion groups exploiting a global pandemic to score political points, heed our warning: We will not let you put the health of our patients, and the community, at risk.

It’s time to stop wasting valuable time and resources on this opportunistic play to ban abortion. Let’s put health care first, and get back to work. The priority of Planned Parenthood health centers is ensuring that every person can access essential health care while conserving needed resources during this time of a global pandemic. Gov. Abbott’s priority, and the priority for all of our elected leaders, should be the same.

Judge Myron Thompson, of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, a Jimmy Carter appointee, ruled Monday regarding Alabama’s suspension of elective abortions. CNN reported Thompson’s ruling:

Because Alabama law imposes time limits on when women can obtain abortions, the March 27 order is likely to fully prevent some women from exercising their right to obtain an abortion … And for those women who, despite the mandatory postponement, are able to vindicate their right, the required delay may pose an undue burden that is not justified by the State’s purported rationales.

In Ohio, Judge Michael Barrett of U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, a George W. Bush appointee, temporarily blocked Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) and Attorney General Dave Yost (R) from banning elective abortions during the coronavirus pandemic crisis.

Cleveland.com reported Barrett said, “The law is well-settled that women possess a fundamental constitutional right of access to abortions”:

If a healthcare provider determines, on a case-by-case basis, that the surgical procedure is medically indicated and cannot be delayed, based on the timing of pre-viability or other medical conditions, said procedure is deemed legally essential to preserve a woman’s right to constitutionally protected access to abortions.

Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights have also filed a lawsuit against Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) and Attorney General Mike Hunter (R) for suspending elective abortions during the coronavirus crisis.

Hunter said in response to the lawsuit, according to the Oklahoman:

This lawsuit from Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion groups demands an exception to prioritize abortion over all other health care in the midst of the COVID-19 emergency in our state. It attacks the governor’s executive order, which preserves limited health care resources and medical safety equipment, in a blatant disregard of the escalating illness and death this pandemic is inflicting on Oklahomans.

Many Twitter users condemned Planned Parenthood’s demand that abortions continue during the current crisis:


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