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Elective abortions resume in Texas

by | Apr 23, 2020

By Dave Andrusko

The ongoing debate over elective abortions in Texas, either way, was going to reach a turning point Tuesday night with the expiration of Gov. Greg Abbott’s March 21 executive order “suspending ‘non-essential’ medical procedures amid the coronavirus pandemic — which the Attorney General Ken Paxton later clarified to include abortion,” according to CBS News’ Katie Smith.

Smith added that Gov. Abbott’s new executive order, which began Wednesday and will be in force until midnight May 8, 

suspends some medical procedures but offers exceptions to providers that don’t use hospital beds or request personal protective equipment, like masks and gloves, from public sources. 

Texas’ abortion providers argued they qualified for those exceptions — and the state agreed. 

“… there is no case or controversy remaining, as Plaintiffs have already certified they are in compliance with an exception,” Texas’ attorney general wrote in the filing Wednesday evening.

To be specific, Gov. Abbott’s new executive order, in laying out exceptions to the general ongoing postponement of all surgeries and procedures that are not medically necessary, allows

  • any procedure that, if performed in accordance with the commonly accepted standard of clinical practice, would not deplete the hospital capacity or the personal protective equipment needed to cope with the COVID-19 disaster; or
  • any surgery or procedure performed in a licensed health care facility that has certified in writing to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission both; (1) that it will reserve at least 25% of its hospital capacity for treatment of COVID-19 patients, accounting for the range of clinical severity of COVID-19 patients; and (2) that it will not request any personal protective equipment from any public source, whether federal, state, or local, for the duration of the COVID-19 disaster.

Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Tennessee “have tried similar abortion restrictions, often through emergency orders by their governors,” the New York Times reported.

In the background is Monday’s decision from the 5th U.S. Court of Appeals. What, if any effect it will have, is unclear.

As NRL News Today reported, in politely chastising District Judge Lee Yeakel, the three-judge panel said Texas could restrict access to pill-induced abortions while the state fought the coronavirus pandemic.

The case had ricocheted back and forth, beginning with the April 9 decision by reliably pro-abortion Judge Yeakel gutting Gov. Abbott’s executive order. Vigorously defending the governor, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton fought Judge Yeakel’s attempt to undermine the governor’s order. The 5th Circuit upheld most of the executive order’s provisions, whereas the plaintiffs went back again to Judge Yeakel, then back to the 5th Circuit, and so forth until Gov. Abbott’s modified executive order.

According to multiple outlets, Texas abortion clinics were open for business on Wednesday.

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