After a whirlwind of contentious legal filings and orders at the end of last week, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is temporarily allowing Texas to prohibit almost all elective abortions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
March 22: Texas issues executive order preventing abortions
On March 22, in response to the growing need to prioritize and conserve health care resources to combat COVID-19, Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order prohibiting medical procedures that are not immediately medically necessary. Subsequently, Attorney General Ken Paxton clarified that abortion providers are not exempt from the governor’s order. These actions in favor of public health have catalyzed an ongoing legal battle between the State and the abortion industry, bouncing from the Federal District Court to the Federal Court of Appeals and back again, which will potentially find resolution at the Supreme Court of the United States.
To diminish the risk of transmission and mitigate the overall spread of COVID-19, medical professionals must have access to personal protective equipment (PPE) sufficient to protect themselves. Moreover, hospitals must ensure medical resources are prudently conserved to avoid shortages should COVID-19 cases escalate. For this reason, Gov. Abbott is limiting access to non-essential medical procedures that consume these vital medical resources. While most medical practices have accepted the responsibility of prioritizing public health in the midst of a pandemic, the abortion industry quickly sued in a left-leaning court, evidently believing themselves above commonsense health measures.
March 30: Lower court blocks executive order, allowing abortions to resume
On March 30, Austin Federal District Court Judge Lee Yeakel, a loyal ally of the abortion industry, initially granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) exempting all elective abortions from Gov. Abbott’s executive order. He arrived at the novel and radical conclusion that abortion is an absolute and unique right which the government may never prohibit, even in the midst of a worldwide pandemic.
March 31: Appeals court reinstates executive order
Shortly thereafter, a panel on the Federal Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit stayed Yeakel’s order, allowing Texas to once again enforce the prohibition of elective procedures against abortion providers.
April 9: Lower court allows abortions again after abortionists file new complaint
The very next day, Judge Yeakel canceled further scheduled hearings on the matter, and the abortion plaintiffs immediately filed for another temporary restraining order. In less than 24 hours, with only one additional assertion- not evidence- by the abortion plaintiffs and without allowing Attorney General Paxton’s office to file any response, Judge Yeakel issued another TRO. Judge Yeakel’s second TRO purportedly allows abortions to take place, including chemical abortions, abortions if women lack access to specific types of clinics, and those on preborn babies who may be past 20 weeks gestation after April 22.
April 10: Appeals court blocks abortionists’ plea to commit chemical abortions but allows late abortions
After admonishing Judge Yeakel, the Federal Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit again issued an “administrative stay” for most of Judge Yeakel’s order. Such a move means the higher court says most abortions are stopped in the state until the appellate court has enough time to review the parties’ arguments and make a decision. The Fifth Circuit has ordered relevant briefs for both sides to be submitted by noon on Monday, April 13.
For now, 98.5% of elective abortions are thankfully now halted, but preborn children who would be 20 weeks old by April 22 can tragically still be murdered in certain abortion facilities. Meanwhile, the abortion industry has asked the Supreme Court to step in and exempt chemical abortions from Gov. Abbott’s executive order. Should the Supreme Court side with the abortion industry, chemical abortions will become legal until more permanent action is taken.
Text PROLIFE to 313131 for updates on the rapidly progressing legal battle.