Gov. Greg Abbott didn't say anything about it last week, when he announced his ban on elective medical procedures, but Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton made it clear Monday afternoon — abortion is banned in Texas until, at the earliest, April 3. Before the novel coronavirus pandemic, anyone seeking an abortion in Texas faced a lengthy ordeal. Now, they face utter uncertainty.
“We must work together as Texans to stop the spread of COVID-19 and ensure that our healthcare professionals and facilities have all the resources they need to fight the virus at this time,” Paxton said. “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.”
The full force of the law, in this case, is a $1,000 fine and up to 180 days in jail.
Paxton's office says the ban is essential to preserve Texas' stock of personal protective equipment. Texas anti-abortion groups are praising Abbott's order for different reasons.
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"The new executive order by Gov. Greg Abbott will stop all surgical elective abortions until 11:59 p.m. on April 21, 2020, unless otherwise ordered. According to the state’s latest data, this could save 2,868 lives, which equates to 66% of abortions in Texas for the month," Texas Right to Life said in a statement. "Texas Right to Life is grateful that the loss of life during the COVID-19 outbreak will be decreased thanks to the halt in abortions. We call on the State of Texas to expand the order to include chemical abortions as well."
Texas abortion access groups blasted Abbott and Paxton for restricted access to a critical medical procedure.
"Abortion is a procedure where time is of the essence and cannot be delayed without profound consequences. State leaders should ensure that Texans who need care can access it with the least amount of obstacles and medically unnecessary visits possible," said Aimee Arrambide, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas. "As Texans face the threat of COVID-19 we urge Gov. Abbott and Ken Paxton to follow the advice of the American College of OB-GYNs and maintain access to abortion care as essential and time-sensitive healthcare. In this time of public health crisis, it is more important than ever to listen to healthcare experts.”