By Jonathon Van Maren
As the battle over the pandemic abortion bans ping-pong from the governors’ desks to the circuit courts, it appears that a federal appeals court has ruled that Texas can—at least temporarily—enforce a ban on abortion as part of its response to the coronavirus pandemic. If I am not mistaken, this is the first state-wide abortion ban (albeit one with an expiration date) that has been upheld in the courts since 1973. Planned Parenthood and several abortion rights groups had sued the state, but as of right now, the ban stands (despite similar bans being blocked by judges in Alabama and Ohio on Monday). From The Hill:
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a temporary stay on a ruling from a lower court that had blocked Texas from enforcing the ban. State officials argue the ban is intended to conserve medical supplies for health workers on the front lines of the coronavirus response. But abortion rights advocates say states are using the pandemic as an excuse to block access. In a 2-1 opinion, the appeals court ruled that the order from the lower court be stayed until an appeal from Texas is considered. The two judges who ruled in favor of a stay were nominated to their posts by President Trump and former President George W. Bush.
This ban is already having a real and life-saving impact. According to one media report, the Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas in Austin had already cancelled 261 abortions as of last week, and affiliated abortion clinics have thus far already received 583 calls from people seeking abortions. Because the ban on abortion remains in effect for the time, being, clinic staff “have been forced to call women to let them know their appointments [have] been canceled indefinitely…Other providers in Texas have also reported massive cancellations this week.”
Amy Hagstron-Miller, who runs several abortion clinics, told the media that her staff have already been forced to cancel more than 150 abortion appointments as of last Wednesday. If clinics remain closed for an extended period of time, the revenue losses will start to inflict real damage on the abortion industry, and although some women will rebook their appointments or seek procedures out of state, data indicates that many women will seek life-affirming options instead.
For the abortion clinics, these bans mean lost revenues. For many babies, these bans will mean life itself.