Federal judges in Alabama and Ohio have blocked attempts to restrict abortions during the coronavirus pandemic.
By classing them “non-essential” medical procedures, the states’ sought to temporarily close down abortion clinics and prohibit terminations until the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. In Alabama, the move was slapped down by District Court Judge Myron Thompson, who heard arguments via video link before postponing the ban until at least April 6. “The State's interest in immediate enforcement of the March 27 order - a broad mandate aimed primarily at preventing large social gatherings - against abortion providers does not based on the current record, outweigh plaintiffs' concerns,” the judge said, according to Politico.
In Ohio, a judge ruled that the state’s emergency orders are by definition unconstitutional if they prevent women from obtaining abortions. Judge Michael Barrett subsequently ordered a two-week restraining order on the ban, siding with abortion providers like Planned Parenthood who had launched a legal challenge against the state’s decision.
Despite a similar outcome for Texas earlier in the week, on Tuesday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the ban – introduced by Attorney General Ken Paxton – be reinstated. As per the court’s ruling, any abortions that are deemed “not medically necessary to preserve the life or health" of the patient will be prohibited.
"I thank the court for their immediate and careful attention to the health and safety needs of Texans suffering from the spread of COVID-19," Paxton said in a statement Tuesday, according to CBS News. "The temporary stay ordered this afternoon justly prioritizes supplies and personal protective equipment for the medical professionals in need."
In a statement, NARAL’s Pro-Choice Texas executive director, Aimee Arrambide, raged against Paxton’s pro-life tactics. "Texans are losing their jobs, they are struggling to put food on the table, they can't get COVID-19 testing — meanwhile indicted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is doubling down on banning abortion," she said. "Let's be clear, it is never the right time to play politics, but doing so in the wake of COVID-19 is a despicable low."
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Will Maule is a British journalist who has spent the past several years working as a digital news editor. Since earning a degree in international relations and politics, Will has developed a particular interest in covering ethical issues, human rights and global religious persecution. Will's work has been featured in various outlets including The Spectator, Faithwire, CBN News, Spiked, The Federalist and Christian Headlines. Follow him on Twitter at @WillAMaule.