Texas governor Greg Abbott has banned all abortion procedures, but will allow church services to be held during the coronavirus outbreak.
According to Forbes, Abbott banned all abortions last week. However, a Federal District Court blocked the ban Monday, after Planned Parenthood and other organizations filed a lawsuit. An appeals court reversed the district court decision Tuesday, allowing the ban to remain in place until the case made its way through the courts.
Hours later, Abbott issued an order limiting social gatherings and in-person contact with the exception of services deemed essential by the federal government and “religious services conducted in churches, congregations, and houses of worship.”
The original executive order outlining healthcare services issued by Abbott on March 22 did not mention abortion at all. The order was designed to preserve the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) and hospital capacity during the coronavirus outbreak.
The next day, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a statement saying he believed the order included “any type of abortion that is not medically necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.”
Abortion services in the state ceased all surgical abortions but continued providing medical ones, until providers learned Friday those must be suspended as well. Paxton is well known for challenging abortion rights in the state.
“Abortion is an essential component of comprehensive health care,” the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said in a March 18 statement cosigned by seven other medical organizations. Delaying abortion weeks or even days can “increase the risks or potentially make it completely inaccessible,” and the “consequences of being unable to obtain an abortion profoundly impact a person’s life, health, and well-being.”
Pregnancy carries greater health risks to the mother than terminating a pregnancy, particularly in Texas, which ranks sixth in the nation in maternal deaths. Additionally, Dr. Daniel Grossman, professor at the University of California San Francisco, said “a lot more gloves, gowns, and masks” are used for pelvic exams, ultrasounds, and delivery if a woman continues her pregnancy.
For African American women, the inability to get an abortion can have devastating effects. Especially during the coronavirus outbreak where medical care outside of the virus is at a standstill and unemployment is skyrocketing.