AUSTIN, Texas - A federal judge has blocked the state's emergency ban on abortions during the coronavirus outbreak. This comes after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a statement warning all licensed health care professionals and facilities to postpone all surgeries and procedures not immediately medically necessary in response to COVID-19.
Paxton's office argued that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased demand for hospital beds and created a shortage of personal protective equipment for health care professions.
Planned Parenthood joined other abortion providers in suing Texas over the move. The lawsuit disputed Paxton's view, saying that the “COVID-19 pandemic and its fallout do not reduce patients’ needs for abortion; if anything, they make timely access to abortion even more urgent.”
The federal lawsuit filed in Austin, Texas, is among the most high-profile challenges to a government response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“All patients accessing abortion deserve their care without delay,” said Tara Pohlmeyer, communications manager at Progress Texas. “Access to reproductive health care is especially important during a public health crisis, and this ruling means Texans have access to much-needed care. Instead of trying to distract with ideology, state lawmakers like Gov. Greg Abbott and indicted-Attorney General Ken Paxton can now focus on prioritizing public health and safety measures for the state.”
Paxton issued a statement on the ruling Monday evening, saying that his office is seeking immediate appellate review in the suit.
“I am deeply disappointed that the court ruled against the health and safety of Texans. My office is seeking prompt appellate review to ensure that medical professionals on the frontlines have the supplies and protective gear they desperately need," Paxton said. "We will fight tirelessly against this politically-driven lawsuit to protect the health of Texans suffering from this COVID-19 crisis.”
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