4

Abortion Still Legal in Texas After Judge Slaps Paxton, Abbott

Ken Paxton speaks at the Partnerships to Eradicate Human Trafficking in the Americas at the 2019 Concordia Americas Summit in Bogota, Colombia.EXPAND
Ken Paxton speaks at the Partnerships to Eradicate Human Trafficking in the Americas at the 2019 Concordia Americas Summit in Bogota, Colombia.
Gabriel Aponte / Getty Images
^
Keep Dallas Observer Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

Despite Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton's best efforts to make hay while the coronavirus spreads, abortion remains as legal in Texas as it was before the virus hit, following a temporary restraining order issued by U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel.

A little more than a week ago, Abbott banned all elective medical and dental procedures, ostensibly in an effort to preserve the state's supply of personal protective equipment for medical professionals, in addition to the state's other healthcare resources.

Abbott didn't say anything about abortion at the time, but Paxton soon made it clear that, as far as Texas' Republican leadership was concerned, the elective procedures ban included abortions that weren't needed to save a pregnant person's life.

“Medical professionals are in dire need of supplies, and abortion providers who refuse to follow state law are demonstrating a clear disregard for Texans suffering from this medical crisis,” Paxton said Monday. “All Texans must work together to stop the spread of COVID-19. My office will continue to defend Gov. Abbott’s order to ensure that supplies and personal protective gear reach the hardworking medical professionals who need it the most during this health crisis.”

Paxton's argument, essentially, is that — the opinions of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology notwithstanding — abortion is not essential healthcare.

Monday afternoon, Yeakel wrote that Planned Parenthood and the other organizations that sued Texas to stop the ban were likely to prevail over the course of full trial.

"Regarding a woman's right to a pre-fetal-viability abortion, the Supreme Court has spoken clearly. There can be no outright ban on such a procedure. This court will not speculate on whether the Supreme Court included a silent 'except-in-a-national-emergency clause' in its previous writings on the issue," Yeakel writes. "Only the Supreme Court may restrict the breadth of its rulings. The court will not predict what the Supreme Court will do if this case reaches that Court. For now, the State Defendants, and perhaps the others, agree that the Executive Order bans all pre-fetal-viability abortions. This is inconsistent with Supreme Court precedent. Plaintiffs have demonstrated a strong likelihood of success on the merits of their action."

Planned Parenthood officials said after the ruling that it was time for Texas to move on.

"Let’s put healthcare first and get back to work. The priority of Planned Parenthood health centers is ensuring that every person can access essential healthcare while conserving needed resources during this time of a global pandemic. Gov. Abbott’s priority, and the priority for all of our elected leaders, should be the same," said Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

The judge's ruling blocks Paxton and Abbott's ban until at least April 13. A telephone hearing is scheduled that day to argue the merits of a further injunction being issued in the case.

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.

 

Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.