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5th Circuit reinstitutes Texas prohibition on chemical abortions as state continues to fight COVID-19

by | Apr 20, 2020

By Dave Andrusko

Every decision relating to abortion in the context of barred all procedures not “immediately medically necessary” must be prefaced with the word “temporary,” so fast are events moving—especially in Texas.

Earlier today, as the Texas Tribune reported, “Reversing course, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals said access to pill-induced abortions can be restricted while the state fights the coronavirus pandemic.”

The appeals court has previously allowed “medication” [chemical] abortions and where a delay would place the pregnancy beyond the 22-week state cutoff for abortions. Texas Right to Life has explained that, according to data from 2017, chemical abortions account for  31.6% of all abortions in Texas, “ totaling over 17,000 deaths per year.”

“Texas has a significant interest in preserving the health, welfare, and safety of its citizens, and [Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order] is a measure designed to do just that,” the state’s latest filing says. “The harm caused by allowing certain elective abortions to go forward — potentially using up [personal protective equipment] and hospital beds while further spreading the disease — cannot be remedied.”

As NRL News Today as reported, the case has ricocheted back and forth, beginning with the April 9 decision by reliably pro-abortion Judge Lee Yeakel gutting Gov. Abbott’s executive order, returning to the 5th Circuit, back again to Judge Yeakel, and so forth. Each time Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton fought attempts to undermine the governor’s order.

Two questions (at least) remain. Will the issue make its way to the Supreme Court? And what effect will there be as the COVID-19 pandemic winds down?

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