Abbott, Paxton using COVID-19 to push anti-abortion agenda
Update (4/21/20): There have been a lot of confusing updates in the fight for abortion access in Texas, so here's a brief timeline:
Sun., Mar. 22: Gov. Greg Abbott orders health care facilities and professionals to postpone all procedures that are deemed “not medically necessary” as the state gears up for an influx of patients with COVID-19.
Mon., Mar. 23: Indicted-Attorney General Ken Paxton sends out a press release attacking abortion procedures, saying that abortions should not be performed unless the mother's life is in danger.
Wed., March 25: A group of Texas abortion providers — represented by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Lawyering Project — sue Abbott and other state officials to help ensure that patients can access essential, time-sensitive abortion services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mon., Mar. 30: U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel of Austin issues a temporary restraining order against the state, saying that Abbott & Paxton's orders amount to a ban on abortion in violation of the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedent.
Tue., Mar. 31: Paxton appeals and the conservative 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reverses the decision, issuing a temporary stay.
Tue., Apr. 7: The 5th Circuit uses a rare procedural mechanism to rule that the district court was wrong to grant emergency relief to protect access to essential, time-sensitive abortion care, allowing Texas to continue using Abbott’s COVID-19 order to block access to abortion.
Thu., Apr. 9: A federal district court grants a second temporary restraining order against Abbott’s COVID-19 order. This decision allowed abortion providers to resume medication abortion, as well as abortion procedures for patients who would be unable to access abortion due to their gestational age.
Fri., Apr. 10: The 5th Circuit rules against abortion providers, this time granting an administrative stay reversing in large part the federal district court’s latest temporary restraining order, which means abortion was once again largely inaccessible in the state of Texas.
Sat., Apr. 11: Abortion providers ask the U.S. Supreme Court to take emergency action and restore access to medication abortion.
Mon., Apr. 13: The 5th Circuit asks abortion providers to further explain why medication abortion is not considered a “procedure.” The 5th Circuit then denies the state’s request to block medication abortion.
Fri., Apr. 17: Abbott reveals his plan to allow nonessential medical procedures as he attempts to “reopen” the state, but says that abortion will be up to the courts.
Mon., Apr. 20: The 5th Circuit grants Texas’ request to bar medication abortions, making the only abortions available those for patients with a gestational age that would exceed the state’s legal limit by April 22.
- Now: Texas patients are feeling the impact, yet again, and abortion providers and advocates will continue to fight.
It’s time for Texas lawmakers to take care of Texans, instead of attacking some of our most vulnerable during a global pandemic.
Original post (3/26/20):
Texas again made national news this week when Republican Governor Greg Abbott and indicted-Attorney General Ken Paxton made the decision to push their extremist ideological agenda in front of Texans’ health and safety during a global pandemic.
Abbott and Paxton claimed that abortion care is “non-essential,” lumping it in with other halted procedures in an executive order.
Texas abortion providers are fighting back, and have filed a lawsuit challenging the restrictive order. Abortion care is a right and must be prioritized as a timely, necessary procedure as part of the full spectrum of Texans’ reproductive health care.
Why would Abbott and Paxton want to do this? To distract from their own inaction on COVID-19.
Texas is the largest state so far to not have a stay-at-home order, and has the highest uninsured rate in the nation. Yet, Abbott and other state lawmakers have done little to put the health and safety of Texans first.
Emergency actions during a global pandemic should advance health and safety for us all, not force people to delay much-needed care and possibly exacerbate their health situations.
State lawmakers must listen to medical professionals. Experts, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, agree that abortion is an essential, time-sensitive procedure that cannot be delayed.
Access to reproductive health care is especially important during a public health crisis. We need our state lawmakers to focus on solutions, instead of creating more problems for Texans.
Let’s make sure abortion care is accessible for all Texans, hold our elected officials accountable, and pass measures like paid sick leave, emergency Medicaid expansion, 100% vote-by-mail, and a statewide stay-at-home order to protect the health and safety of all residents.