Planned Parenthood sues Texas over temporary abortion ban amid coronavirus crisis

The exterior of a Planned Parenthood Reproductive Health Services Center is seen on May 31, 2019, in St Louis, Missouri.
The exterior of a Planned Parenthood Reproductive Health Services Center is seen on May 31, 2019, in St Louis, Missouri. | Michael Thomas/Getty Images

A group of abortion organizations have filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas over a temporary ban on non-essential medical procedures, including elective abortions, amid the coronavirus crisis. 

Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the Lawyering Project, an abortion rights law firm, filed a complaint against Gov. Greg Abbott over the ban on behalf of abortion providers.

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas on Wednesday, the complaint seeks injunctive relief from the temporary ban.

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“Without injunctive relief, Plaintiffs will be forced to continue turning away patients seeking abortion care. At a minimum, those patients will not be able to obtain an abortion for weeks or even months, given that the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to last far beyond the order’s stated expiration date,” stated the lawsuit.

“Not only will these patients be deprived of their constitutional right to essential healthcare and self-determination, but forcing them to continue their pregnancies will in fact impose far greater strains on an already-taxed healthcare system, as prenatal care and delivery involve much greater exhaustion of hospital health care services and [personal protective equipment] than abortions.”

Alexis McGill-Johnson, acting president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the nation's largest abortion business, said in a statement Wednesday that she believed “Abbott and anti-abortion activists nationwide are forcing a legal and political fight in the middle of a public health crisis.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton took issue with the lawsuit, explaining in a statement released Wednesday evening that his office intends to defend the governor’s order.

“[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,’” Paxton said in a statement.

“My office will tirelessly defend Governor Abbott’s Order to ensure that necessary supplies reach the medical professionals combating this national health crisis,” he added. 

On Sunday, Abbott signed an executive order postponing all procedures not deemed medically necessary until April 21 in order to help provide more resources to combat the coronavirus.

The pro-life organization Texas Right to Life celebrated the move, noting that elective abortions were among the procedures considered banned until April 21.

“According to the state’s latest data, this could save 2,868 lives, which equates to 66% of abortions in Texas for the month,” the group said.

“Texas Right to Life is grateful that the loss of life during the COVID-19 outbreak will be decreased thanks to the halt in abortions.”

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