Federal Judges Block Texas, Ohio, and Alabama From Using Coronavirus to Ban Abortions

Federal judges on Monday halted abortion bans in Texas, Alabama, and Ohio that were announced as part of the states’ restrictions to combat the coronavirus, Politico reports.

District Court Judge Lee Yeakel issued a temporary restraining order blocking Texas from halting abortions until at least April 13.

Yeakel sided with abortion providers who argued that women who need the procedures cannot delay them for weeks or months.

Abortion providers told the court that hundreds of appointments have already been canceled since the ban went into effect.

"Regarding a woman's right to a pre-fetal-viability abortion, the Supreme Court has spoken clearly. There can be no outright ban on such a procedure,” said Yeakel, a George W. Bush appointee. "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.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton vowed to appeal the ruling to "to ensure that medical professionals on the frontlines have the supplies and protective gear they desperately need."

Ohio too:

District Court Judge Michael Barrett similarly sided with Planned Parenthood in a lawsuit challenging Ohio’s ban. Barrett likewise issued a two-week restraining order.

Barrett, a fellow Bush appointee, argued that the state failed to make an argument that the ban was necessary to preserve protective equipment for health workers and said the ban would cause “irreparable harm.”

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said that the next step may be an “emergency appeal, a trial on the preliminary injunction, [or] a more specifically drawn order or other remedy."

And Alabama:

District Court Judge Myron Thompson blocked Alabama’s ban from taking effect until at least April 6.

"The State’s interest in immediate enforcement of the March 27 order — a broad mandate aimed primarily at preventing large social gatherings — against abortion providers does not, based on the current record, outweigh plaintiffs’ concerns," he said.

Iowa, Mississippi, and Oklahoma have also moved to ban abortions amid the pandemic.

Nancy Northup, the president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said that these rulings send “a message to other states: Using this pandemic to ban abortion access is unconstitutional.”


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