Texas Attempts to Stop Abortions Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

The number of cases of COVID-19 in Texas has been rapidly climbing and is now at nearly 800 known cases. The Texas Department of State Health Services has been tracking the disclosed cases, and according to The Texas Tribune as of March 24, there were approximately 736 coronavirus cases and 11 reported deaths in Texas. Due to the large number of cases and the expectation of the number to continue climbing, Governor Greg Abbott ordered that health care facilities postpone all procedures that are not seen as medically necessary.

The state did not take this order lightly. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton then spoke out to say that this should include abortions not being performed for any reason other than the mother's life being in danger. That being said, Ken Paxton added that the order would end on April 21. Paxton also made a statement telling those that choose to perform the medical procedure, no matter who, will face legal consequences. Those providing the services may be fined $1,000 or possible jail time going up to 180 days.

Back on March 20, Ohio’s Attorney General made an order to have clinics stop surgical abortions that are non-essential. The original order against non-essential surgeries began from the Ohio Department of Health and had no mention of stopping abortion procedures. Abortion clinics in Ohio, specifically Planned Parenthood, have been fighting against this order. They have kept their doors open to continue performing the procedures. Doctor's stethoscope Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash

Many other organizations and human rights activists have also spoken out against these orders. According to the Human Rights Watch, there is a huge concern that stopping abortions during this time will put people’s health and lives at risk. Planned Parenthood released a direct statement saying that their “top priority is ensuring that every person can continue accessing essential health care, including abortion,” after the order in Ohio. 

The original idea of the order was to help control hospital capacity and save personal protective equipment that may help in protecting and fighting against the coronavirus. Many have agreed that this is reasonable for the states to claim, but they do not see the reason for discontinuing abortions during that time. While many places in Ohio have spoken out against this, there has yet to be any major responses from Planned Parenthood in Texas. 

The huge question between the state and these clinics is whether or not they see abortion procedures as medically necessary in most cases. These clinics are bound to fight back and voice their opinion and the state is sure to do the same thing. Many pro-life activists have also spoken out to say that they agree with the order and that abortions should not be performed during this time. They believe that the equipment and medical space is more of a necessity to protect against the coronavirus. 

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