COVID-19 Special Coverage
Federal courts block Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama abortion bans during pandemic
© WikiMedia (James McNellis)
Federal courts block Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama abortion bans during pandemic

Federal appeals courts on Tuesday affirmed temporary lower court blocks on abortion bans issued in Oklahoma and Texas amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit blocked surgical abortions, but allowed medical abortions to continue in Texas. The US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit held similarly, denying the Oklahoma governor’s appeal.

“These emergency abortion bans are an abuse of power and part of an ongoing effort to use sham justifications to shut down clinics and make an end run around Roe v. Wade,” said President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Nancy Northup in her statement. “These same states have tried to ban abortion access for years—no one should be fooled that this is warranted by the current crisis.”

Alabama’s governor also banned abortions during the pandemic. US District Judge Myron Thompson issued a preliminary injunction Sunday, blocking the governor’s order.

“[E]fforts to combat COVID-19 do not outweigh the lasting harm imposed by the denial of an individual’s right to terminate her pregnancy,” Thompson wrote in his opinion.

“Right now, people are just trying to survive this crisis. Women are just trying to survive this crisis,” said acting President and CEO of Planned Parenthood, Alexis McGill Johnson. “Today, [women in these states] can breathe a temporary sign of relief.”

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