Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, has filed suit in Texas to allow clinics there to continue to perform abortions during the coronavirus health emergency.
On March 23, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton notified Planned Parenthood that, because abortions were elective procedures, they did not qualify as critical or essential medical services during a state-ordered business slowdown.
“The Texas Attorney General’s enforcement 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 (personal protective equipment) or hospital capacity,” the lawsuit reads.
Planned Parenthood attorneys also noted Mr. Paxton appeared to have extended the ban to “medication abortions,” which the clinic says involves no surgery and thus, “this appears to be the only oral medication targeted in this manner.”
In his letter, Mr. Paxton “warned all licensed health care professionals and all licensed health care facilities, including abortion providers that, pursuant to Executive Order GA 09 issued by Gov. Greg Abbott, they must postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately medically necessary.”
Abortion clinics in Texas reportedly complied this week with the order, which is set to expire on April 21. In neighboring Louisiana, the state’s three abortion clinics also closed this week in response to a similar mandate from Gov. John Bel Edwards.
“As a result of these threats,” Planned Parenthood’s lawyers wrote in their suit filed in federal district court Wednesday, “this week plaintiffs have already been forced to turn away patients in need of time-sensitive care.”
The legal wrangling over abortion in Texas mirrors fights that have broken out on hot-button social issues elsewhere as both sides complain politicians are using the crisis to force their positions. In California, for example, Second Amendment advocates claim authorities targeted gun stores first when calling for the closure of “nonessential” businesses. The sheriff in Los Angeles County ordered gun stores there to close Thursday afternoon.
Pro-life groups say the Texas order was legal and broad, given it requires postponement of “all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition of, or to preserve the life of, a patient who without immediate performance of the surgery or procedure would be at risk for serious adverse medical consequences, as determined by the patient’s physician.”
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