Texas abortion providers are in legal limbo after Gov. Greg Abbott issued an emergency order banning nonessential medical procedures to free up health care services and equipment in the fight against COVID-19. In the order, the state deems abortion procedures that aren’t medical emergencies nonessential. Abortion providers face a $1,000 fine or 180 days in jail if they violate the order, which is in place until April 21.
The order was challenged by a handful of abortion providers, and has led to a legal back-and-forth this week. On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled the state can enforce a temporary ban while the lawsuit is litigated. In a press release, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he applauded the court’s ruling.
Amy Hagstrom Miller is president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health. She’s a plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging the state’s emergency order, and says requiring women to delay getting an abortion “puts [them] in a dangerous predicament.” She says patients are scared and confused by the legal uncertainty surrounding abortions. They’re also dealing with stress from the pandemic.
“Many of the folks have lost their jobs and can’t even consider traveling out of state to get this needed care,” Hagstrom Miller says.
Abortion procedures do not require surgery, or the use of protective masks. And medication abortions require no personal protective equipment at all, she says.
Hagstrom Miller claims Abbott and Paxton are “playing politics” with abortion. Both officials are anti-abortion. She says the governor’s order helps fuel misinformation about abortion procedures.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.