Appeals court re-instates order to limit abortion access during coronavirus

April 1, 2020, 3:48 PM UTC

A federal appeals court on Tuesday put on hold a victory for Texas abortion providers who are trying to stop the state from shuttering clinics during the coronavirus pandemic.

The order by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reflects the court battles still ahead for abortion providers across the U.S. during the outbreak, even after clinics in Texas, Ohio, and Alabama secured at least partial triumphs Monday.

In Texas, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel of Austin had ruled the “Supreme Court has spoken clearly” on a woman’s right to abortion while blocking efforts by state Republican leaders to ban the procedure during the virus crisis. But that ruling is now on hold after the New Orleans appeals court said it needed more time to consider the case.

Governors across the country in recent weeks have issued executive orders halting nonessential medical surgeries to free up hospitals, and Republicans have said abortions should be included under those mandates. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Tuesday’s development “justly prioritizes supplies and personal protective equipment for the medical professionals in need.”

Lawsuits have also been filed in Iowa and Oklahoma after governors in those states similarly ordered a stop to non-emergency procedures and specifically included abortion among them.

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