Law & the Courts

Texas Abortion Providers Accuse Gov. of ‘Playing Politics,’ Sue over Abortion Ban amid Coronavirus

Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks at the National Rifle Association convention in Dallas, Texas, May 4, 2018. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Texas abortion providers sued the state Wednesday to challenge an executive order that prohibited a list of procedures considered not medically necessary, including abortion, to preserve the state’s health-care capacity in the wake of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.

Sealy Massingill, the chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, accused Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton of “playing politics” over the directive.

“I find it extremely distressing . . .  that we are trying to respond to a purely political fight that [Gov. Greg Abbott] started. Patients who need abortions are on a time-sensitive deadline,” Massingill said in a Wednesday press conference.

“We cannot sit idly by while the state is forcing Texans to be pregnant against their will,” Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of abortion provider Whole Women’s Health, added.

Paxton issued the ban on Monday, saying that it extended until April 21 and that violators could be fined $1,000 or face up to 180 days in jail.

“No one is exempt from the governor’s executive order on medically unnecessary surgeries and procedures, including abortion providers. Those who violate the governor’s order will be met with the full force of the law,” a statement from Paxton’s office reads. The attorney general added that an abortion could be performed if the mother’s life is in danger.

Paxton slammed the lawsuit on Twitter Wednesday, calling it “unconscionable that abortion providers are fighting against the health of Texans and withholding desperately needed supplies and personal protective equipment in favor of a procedure that they refer to as a ‘choice.’”

Ohio is also locked in a battle over abortion amid coronavirus, as attorney general Dave Yost has issued multiple cease and desist orders to abortion clinics across the state that had defied an order from the Department of Health (ODH) to stop.

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