Federal judge overrules Texas AG, allows abortions to continue despite ban on non-essential procedures

by Laura Mize · Mar 31st, 2020 10:06 am

Last Updated Mar 31st, 2020 at 10:31 am

A federal judge has implemented a temporary restraining order to stop Texas from applying its ban on unnecessary medical procedures to abortions.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced the ban on unnecessary medical procedures earlier this month as a measure to help conserve hospital beds and personal protective equipment for patients and health care providers fighting the coronavirus. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton released a notice last week specifying that abortions fall under the category of unnecessary procedures unless they are "medically necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother."

Planned Parenthood Federation of America and two other groups joined together to seek an injunction that would stop Paxton from enforcing the governor's order in abortion cases. Judge Lee Yeakel ruled in favor of the groups on Monday.

"Patients will suffer serious and irreparable harm in the absence of a temporary restraining order," the judge wrote in his opinion. "The attorney general's interpretation of the Executive Order prevents Texas women from exercising what the Supreme Court has declared is their fundamental constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy before a fetus is viable."

Similar challenges are now in progress against temporary abortion bans in Ohio, Alabama, Iowa, and Oklahoma.

Paxton will pursue "appellate review promptly," a spokesman for his office wrote in an email to CBS News, saying that "we are disappointed in the court's decision."


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