The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has temporarily halted a lower court ruling that stopped Texas officials from banning abortions to help conserve medical resources to combat the coronavirus.
The federal appellate court ruling overturns a judge’s temporary restraining order authorizing Texas abortion clinics to keep killing babies in abortions instead of obeying the governor’s order to halt non-essential medical procedures. Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s order helps support hospitals and medical clinics that need additional medical gear and supplies to treat patients with the coronavirus.
As LifeNews.com reported yesterday, a federal judge in Texas with a long history of siding with abortion advocates ruled today that Texas abortion centers can defy the governor’s order to stop non-essential medical procedures instead of helping coronavirus patients by conserving medical resources during the pandemic.
But the Fifth Circuit disagreed, saying the abortion ban could continue while the case moves forward. In the three-judge panel, Judges Jennifer Walker Elrod and Stuart Kyle Duncan ruled to block the temporary restraining order, and Judge James Dennis dissented. Dennis claimed that not allowing abortion clinics to kill babies would make it so “irreparable harm would flow from allowing the Executive Order to prohibit abortions during this critical time.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton praised the decision.
“The temporary stay ordered this afternoon justly prioritizes supplies and personal protective equipment for the medical professionals in need,” he said in a statement.
And in a statement to LifeNews.com, Texas Right to Life also praised the ruling.
“Texas Right to Life is grateful that once again preborn children will be protected and that there will be a silver lining in light of the tragic loss of life during the COVID-19 outbreak. The Fifth Circuit’s decision will allow Texas to direct much-needed gloves, masks, and gowns to hospitals saving lives from the coronavirus on the front-lines,” it said.
Abortions are once again banned to conserve medical supplies until the April 13 trial in federal district court. Abortionists may seek to block the executive order again by appealing to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Attorneys for the state of Texas fought in court yesterday to defend Governor Greg Abbott’s order that all non-essential medical procedures, including abortions, stop during the coronavirus pandemic. While Texas is fighting for patients, abortion businesses have filed suit and are fighting to keep profiting from killing babies in abortions.
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Abbott issued a new executive order prohibiting all non-essential medical procedures until the middle of April. The order says that, “beginning now and continuing until 11:59 p.m. on April 21, 2020, all licensed health care professionals and all licensed health care facilities shall 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, as determined by the patient’s physician.”
Then, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton essentially closed down abortion businesses in the state and warned them that they are subject to a new executive order pro-life Governor Greg Abbott issued Sunday to end all non-essential surgical procedures. Since no abortions are essential, abortion centers essentially should close down.
“The truth is abortion, for the most part, is an elective procedure,” Paxton said.
Today, Paxton said he will appeal the ruling and fight to protect unborn children and coronavirus patients.
“I am deeply disappointed that the court ruled against the health and safety of Texans. My office is seeking prompt appellate review to ensure that medical professionals on the frontlines have the supplies and protective gear they desperately need. We will fight tirelessly against this politically-driven lawsuit to protect the health of Texans suffering from this COVID-19 crisis,” he said.
Before the judge issued his temporary restraining order, at least some Texas abortion businesses have closed temporarily or stopped doing abortions in response. Other abortion centers are waiting to see what the legal options are in response and may be continuing to kill babies in abortions.
In his 9-parge order, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel says the abortion ban is inconsistent with U.S. Supreme Court precedent. “Regarding a woman’s right to a pre-fetal-viability abortion, the Supreme Court has spoken clearly,” he writes. “There can be no outright ban on such a procedure. This court will not speculate on whether the Supreme Court included a silent ‘except-in-a-national-emergency clause’ in its previous writings on the issue.”
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Yeakel also writes that people getting abortions will supposedly suffer “serious and irreparable harm” if Paxton’s order is not restrained but said nothing of the irreparable harm coronavirus patients may face if they can’t get legitimate medial treatment.
“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, as well as the risks of traveling to other states in search of time-sensitive medical care,” writes Yeakel. “The court finds that a temporary restraining order will not disserve the public interest.”
Yeakel’s order lasts until April 13, at which point a phone hearing will determine the fate of the preliminary injunction.
Texas made its best case in court:
In a legal brief, lawyers for Texas told U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel that the abortion ban was part of an extraordinary response to an extraordinary situation.
“The State’s efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 are far-reaching precisely because COVID-19 presents a grave threat to public health,” the lawyers wrote.
“Never in our lifetimes have so many Texans been threatened with severe illness or death due to a pandemic sweeping the globe,” they added.
Abortion advocates provided no reason why killing a baby is somehow an essential medical procedure during a pandemic, but instead argued that Texas officials were exploiting the cronavirus crisis to push a pro-life agenda.
But attorneys for the state of Texas responded:
Lawyers for Texas portrayed the argument differently, telling the judge that the abortion providers are seeking “a special exemption, claiming a right to deplete or endanger precious PPE resources and hospital capacity in the name of providing abortions.”
“They have no right to special treatment,” Paxton’s lawyers argued, citing a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said the law does “not give abortion doctors unfettered choice in the course of their medical practice, nor should it elevate their status above other physicians in the medical community.”
“Government authorities expect a surge of COVID-19 cases in the very near future, and Texas is trying to ensure that we have adequate medical supplies, hospital capacity, and healthcare workers to prevent the system from collapsing,” the state lawyers said.
“This Executive Order will save countless lives by preventing further spread of the disease by unnecessary contact and ensuring the conservation of personal protective equipment and hospital capacity necessary to protect the healthcare professionals who will save Texans from this disease,” they added.
Although the situation is fluid, here are the latest reports from LifeNews.com on the status of abortion and orders to stop non-essential medical services:
States Attempting to Protect Babies From Abortion
Texas: Abortion centers are temporarily closed after Governor Greg Abbott’s order. But Texas abortion businesses have sued the state to reopen. Planned Parenthood has filed a lawsuit as well to do abortions and ignore the order. A federal judge has blocked the order and allowed abortion centers to keep killing babies.
Ohio: Abortion centers are included in the order to close but they are refusing to close. The health department is now investigating those violations. Meanwhile, a judge has blocked the state’s order banning abortions.
Alabama: Alabama stopped abortions under its non-essential order until April 13th but a judge ruled the state can’t infringe on the so-called “right” to abortion.
States Not Protecting Babies From Abortion
New York: New York has issued an order to stop non-essential health services but is not applying it to abortion centers. New York Attorney General: Coronavirus Crisis is No Reason to Stop Killing Babies in Abortions. NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio has threatened to permanently close churches while letting abortion centers stay open.
New Jersey: Shut down non-essential health care but abortion centers are excluded.
Michigan: Governor Whitmer has stopped non-essential medical surgeries but allowed abortion clinics to keep killing babies.
North Carolina: Pro-life groups have called on the governor to stop abortions during the coronavirus crisis.
Washington: Shut down non-essential health care but abortion centers are excluded.
California: Shut down non-essential health care but abortion centers are excluded. But 11 Planned Parenthood abortion centers have voluntarily closed.
Pennsylvania: Shut down non-essential health care but abortion centers are excluded.
Maine: Shut down non-essential health care but abortion centers are excluded.
Massachusetts: Shut down non-essential health care but abortion centers are excluded.