Several abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood, have filed a lawsuit against Texas for banning abortions during the coronavirus outbreak.
The order, signed by Gov. Greg Abott, requested for healthcare providers to postpone surgeries and procedures that aren’t immediately medically necessary. This restriction was created to free up personal protective equipment, like N95 respirators, for medical staff helping COVID-19 patients.
On Monday, Attorney General Ken Paxton’s posted a warning that Abott’s order meant that any type of abortion would be banned except those necessary to save a woman’s life. Anyone who violated the order, he wrote, “will be met with the full force of the law.”
The plaintiffs argue that the state has no right to ban abortions while there is a pandemic going on.
The suit claims that Paxton’s “threats are a blatant effort to exploit a public health crisis to advance an extreme, anti-abortion agenda, without any benefit to the state in terms of preventing or resolving shortages of PPE or hospital capacity.”
The order has forced abortion providers to turn away clients. With no end to the pandemic in sight, patients may have to wait months and as a result, some may be forced into childbearing.
“Abortion is essential healthcare, and it is a time-sensitive service,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, president of Whole Woman’s Health. She said the 150-plus cancellations across her three clinics in Texas left some women “begging for the abortions they needed.”
“The Covid-19 pandemic and its fallout do not reduce patients’ needs for abortion,” the plaintiffs argue. “If anything, they make timely access to abortion even more urgent, while raising additional obstacles for patients seeking that care.”
Paxton said it was “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.’”
“This is obviously going to save some lives, which we hope would continue on,” Paxton said. “I don’t even see how people who are on the other side of this issue at this time would dispute that we need our hospitals to take care of the really sick.”
In Texas, there are currently 1,200 cases of coronavirus, and at least a dozen people have died thus far.