By Mary Margaret Olohan
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton struck back at abortion providers for prioritizing abortion over Texans suffering from coronavirus.
The Texas attorney general spoke out in a Tuesday statement after a federal judge blocked Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s order that all non-essential medical procedures temporarily cease — including abortions. The order took effect immediately and will be in place at least until April 21.
“Abortion providers who refuse to follow state law are demonstrating a clear disregard for Texans suffering from this medical crisis,” Paxton said. “For years, abortion has been touted as a ‘choice’ by the same groups now attempting to claim that it is an essential procedure.”
He added: “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.”
Paxton also noted that he had filed for immediate appellate review in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to enforce Abbott’s executive order postponing all unnecessary medical procedures in order to preserve personal protective equipment (PPE).
UPDATE: Victory at 5th Circuit – Abortion ruling stayed! https://t.co/vmpyXsje0B
— Ken Paxton (@KenPaxtonTX) March 31, 2020
Following news of the abortion ban, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and The Lawyering Project filed an emergency lawsuit against the state.
The groups represent a larger coalition of Texas abortion providers including Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast (PPGC), Planned Parenthood Greater Texas (PPGT), Planned Parenthood South Texas (PPST), Whole Woman’s Health, Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, Southwestern Women’s Surgery Center and Austin Women’s Health Center.
“The priority of Planned Parenthood health centers is ensuring that every person can access essential health care while conserving needed resources,” said Planned Parenthood acting president and CEO Alexis McGill-Johnson in a statement. “Governor Abbott’s priority should be the same.”
U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel in Austin ruled Monday that the order banning abortions due to the coronavirus “prevents Texas women from exercising what the Supreme Court has declared is their fundamental constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy before a fetus is viable,” Reuters reported.
But a U.S. appeals court ruled Tuesday to temporarily allow the state to enforce the abortion ban as part of the state’s efforts to fight coronavirus.
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