WASHINGTON — Represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood and other abortion groups have appealed a ruling upholding Texas’ temporary halt on most abortions in the state, arguing to the U.S. Supreme Court that it places more of a burden on mothers and medical facilities for babies to be aborted later or delivered than for “unwanted pregnancies” to be snuffed out early.
“Without this court’s urgent intervention, the Fifth Circuit’s stay will continue to deny hundreds of Texas residents their constitutional right to obtain an abortion while exacerbating the current public health crisis, thereby inflicting irreparable harm,” the appeal reads.
“Patients who could otherwise obtain early medication abortions under the district court’s narrow TRO will be unable to obtain an abortion in Texas for at least several weeks. As a result, they will be forced either to remain pregnant and endure the physical, economic, and emotional consequences of pregnancy or to undertake risky and expensive travel to other states where abortion is still available,” it states.
As previously reported, on March 21, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an order instructing medical facilities to “postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition of, or to preserve the life of, a patient who without immediate performance of the surgery or procedure would be at risk for serious adverse medical consequences or death …”
Attorney General Ken Paxton specifically noted in a statement that the order includes abortion facilities, but excepting “life or health of the mother” cases. He advised that those who violate the order can face penalties of up to $1,000 or 180 days jail time.
“We must work together as Texans to stop the spread of COVID-19 and ensure that our health care professionals and facilities have all the resources they need to fight the virus at this time,” Paxton said. “No one is exempt from the governor’s executive order on medically unnecessary surgeries and procedures, including abortion providers. Those who violate the governor’s order will be met with the full force of the law.”
Planned Parenthood and others quickly sued, asserting that abortion is essential and time-sensitive, and that the government was using the pandemic to target abortion facilities.
“At a minimum, those patients will not be able to obtain an abortion for weeks or even months, given that the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to last far beyond the order’s stated expiration date,” the legal filing stated. “Some will not be able to access abortion at all and will be forced to carry pregnancies to term.”
It also asserted that delivery of the child will be much more of a strain on the women than abortion.
“As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment rates are soaring, meaning that families are losing not only their income but in many cases their employer-provided health insurance; the medical and economic hardships of pregnancy and childrearing, for many families, is thus more acute now than ever,” the complaint said.
“[C]arrying an unwanted pregnancy burdens patients physically, emotionally, psychologically, and financially.”
On March 30, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel, a Bush nominee, determined that the order serves as “effectively banning all abortions before viability” and said that the “Supreme Court has spoken clearly” that a woman has a “right” to an abortion.
“The benefits of a limited potential reduction in the use of some personal protective equipment by abortion providers is outweighed by the harm of eliminating abortion access in the midst of a pandemic that increases the risks of continuing an unwanted pregnancy,” he wrote.
Last Tuesday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, Louisiana overturned Yeakel’s ruling, finding that the Texas order does not ban all abortions but only postpones those that are not medically necessary.
“[T]he district court overstepped its proper role and imposed its own judgment about how the COVID-19 pandemic should be handled with respect to abortion. This was a usurpation of the state’s power,” wrote Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan, a Trump nominee, on behalf of the 2-1 majority.
‘”Properly understood, GA-09 merely postpones certain non-essential abortions,” he outlined. “GA-09 includes an emergency exception for the mother’s life and health, based on the determination of the administering physician.”
The court also found that the order is fair as it applies equally to all elective surgeries, and the fact that it doesn’t mention abortion demonstrates that abortion facilities were not specifically targeted.
“GA-09 applies to a whole host of medical procedures and regulates abortions evenhandedly with those other procedures,” Duncan noted. “The order itself does not even mention abortion — or any other particular procedure — at all. Instead, it refers broadly to ‘all surgeries or procedures’ that meet its criteria.”
“Respondents point to no evidence that GA-09 applies any differently to abortions than to any other procedure. Nor do they cite any comparable procedures that are exempt from GA-09’s requirements.”
However, in its appeal filed on Friday, the Center for Reproductive Rights argued in part that early abortions can’t be considered a “procedure” at all because they involve drug-induced terminations and require no usage of personal protective equipment (PPE).
If abortions are delayed, it will necessitate the use of PPE, and the chances of suffering complications during the abortion will be greater, the group said.
“Moreover, in response to the stay, some patients will attempt to leave Texas — as some are already doing — to obtain abortion care in other states, driving or flying as far away as Colorado and Georgia, which exposes patients and third parties to greater risk
of COVID-19 infection than seeking care locally,” the appeal asserts.
The abortion groups are seeking an emergency restraining order from the Supreme Court that would allow the abortions to continue.
“The past few weeks have been untenable for Texans in need of time-sensitive abortion procedures. We’ve heard patients grow increasingly more desperate for care,” Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Alexis McGill Johnson said in a statement.
“Gov. Abbott has blocked abortion access for mothers who have lost their jobs because of COVID-19, people quarantined with abusive partners, and patients with fatal fetal diagnoses. Now is the time to be making abortion more accessible, not less,” she opined.
However, as previously reported, Christians throughout history have decried abortion as murder. The late preacher Lee Roy Shelton wrote in “The Crimes of Our Times” in a section on abortion:
“When killing anyone, the murderer is guilty of taking the life which God has given, and therefore he is ‘playing God’ by saying when and how a man should die. But God doesn’t look lightly upon those who try to take His place.”
“God has given us the Sixth Commandment as a fence about human life to preserve it, for it is sacred to Him. Yes, the Bible declares human life to be sacred. It is a divine creation, mysterious and magnificent in its beginning and possibility, utterly beyond the control or comprehension of any human being. It is never to be taken away at the will of anyone, for how can they tell the full meaning of that life and what it will bring forth?”
“The revelation of God made to man out of His blessed Word proves that He has purposes for every individual and for the [human] race, stretching far beyond the present moment or manifestation; and to terminate a single life is to set yourselves up as wiser and superior to God. The immensity of the issues of death is so great that there can be no sin against humanity, and accordingly, against God, greater than that of taking a human life.”
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