Federal Judge Blocks Alabama from Banning Abortions during Coronavirus Lockdown

A pregnant woman receives an ultrasound. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Alabama cannot block abortions as part of the state’s measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic, a federal judge ruled on Sunday.

The state may not include abortions in its ban on elective medical procedures, one of the steps Alabama is taking to enforce social distancing and stem the spread of the virus outbreak, U.S. district judge Myron Thompson said in a preliminary injunction issued at the urging of abortion clinics.

“Based on the current record, the defendants’ efforts to combat COVID-19 do not outweigh the lasting harm imposed by the denial of an individual’s right to terminate her pregnancy, by an undue burden or increase in risk on patients imposed by a delayed procedure, or by the cloud of unwarranted prosecution against providers,” the judge wrote.

Alabama has ordered medical procedures to be postponed except in cases of medical emergency or “to avoid serious harm from an underlying condition or disease, or necessary as part of a patient’s ongoing and active treatment.”

Texas, Oklahoma, and Ohio have also attempted to block abortions during the pandemic on the grounds that medical equipment and potential hospital beds must be kept available during the emergency. Abortion advocates are fighting the efforts to halt abortions temporarily in those states as well.

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