Court trashes women’s rights. Allows Texas to Ban Abortions During Pandemic

The Coronavirus pandemic is terrible. The American judicial system has just made it worse for women.  The tangled politics of abortion are moving closer to the US Supreme Court whose five men conservative majority may eviscerate a woman’s right to choose.

Two federal judges have rendered it almost impossible for women in Texas to exercise their freedom of choice.  Citing the Coronavirus “emrgency” the judges ruled the public safety trumps a woman’s right to control her body.

This case is headed for the Supreme Court which could rule on this case and over turn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy.

Wall Street Journal 4.7.2020

Litigation set to test whether states can use national health emergency to place sweeping restrictions on abortion.

A federal appeals court on Tuesday allowed Texas to suspend most abortions in the state during the coronavirus public-health crisis, a move that could quickly send the issue to the Supreme Court.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in a 2-to-1 ruling, lifted a trial judge’s restraining order that prevented the state from curbing abortions on the grounds that it would save medical resources.

In dissent, Judge James Dennis, a Clinton appointee, said the court exposed women “to the risks of continuing an unwanted pregnancy, as well as the risks of traveling to other states in search of time-sensitive medical care.”

“We’ll use every tool at our disposal to fight this harmful order and protect our patients’ health care,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Texas issued a ban on nonessential medical procedures in late March. State Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, warned that the ban applied to abortion, except where terminating a pregnancy was necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother. Failure to comply could bring financial penalties and jail time. The state said its restrictions apply to both surgical abortions and ones performed by taking medication.

A growing number of conservative-led states are attempting similar restrictions, citing public health and the need to preserve scarce protective medical equipment for the treatment of coronavirus patients.

Texas’ approach “ensures that hospital beds remain available for coronavirus patients and personal protective equipment reaches the hardworking medical professionals who need it the most during this crisis,” Mr. Paxton said after Tuesday’s ruling.

Several trial judges have issued initial restraining orders to block states from enforcing coronavirus abortion bans, saying the curbs appear to place an undue burden on a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy.

The Fifth Circuit’s ruling Tuesday split from a decision Monday by a different U.S. appeals court, which declined for now to let the state of Ohio impose restrictions on certain abortions.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Cincinnati, refused to disturb a ruling by a trial judge who allowed abortions in Ohio to proceed if a health-care provider determined the procedure couldn’t be delayed without jeopardizing a woman’s right to obtain the procedure.

The Sixth Circuit said it had no jurisdiction to intervene because the trial court’s initial ruling was temporary and wouldn’t inflict “irretrievable harms.” More legal proceedings in that case are set for later this month.

In Texas, abortion providers said women have been scrambling to make alternative plans. The Fifth Circuit already had blocked abortions temporarily to give itself about a week to consider the case.

Whole Woman’s Health, which operates clinics in three areas of Texas, said some of its patients have had to leave the state, including two who flew to Virginia last week.

A federal appeals court on Tuesday allowed Texas to suspend most abortions in the state during the coronavirus public-health crisis, a move that could quickly send the issue to the Supreme Court.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in a 2-to-1 ruling, lifted a trial judge’s restraining order that prevented the state from curbing abortions on the grounds that it would save medical resources.

In times of great emergency, states can reasonably restrict constitutional rights to protect public safety, the court’s majority said.

“That settled rule allows the state to restrict, for example, one’s right to peaceably assemble, to publicly worship, to travel, and even to leave one’s home. The right to abortion is no exception,” Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan, a Trump appointee, wrote for the court. Joining him in the majority was Judge Jennifer Elrod, a George W. Bush appointee.

The ruling relied upon a rarely used judicial power to side with Texas, but the court said its approach was justified because a judge in Austin reached a “patently erroneous” result in blocking the state from applying its coronavirus restrictions to abortion.

The decision was the first to give the green light to state abortion restrictions during the pandemic. Several other recent decisions from around the country temporarily blocked such measures.

If currently scheduled abortions are delayed, “many women will miss the small window of opportunity they have to access a legal abortion,” Judge Dennis wrote.

The fast-moving litigation is shaping up as the leading test case of whether states can use a national health emergency to place sweeping restrictions on abortion, despite constitutional protections for abortion rights previously established by the Supreme Court.

Abortion providers who sued Texas have two remaining options: They could ask the appeals court to reconsider the issue with more judges participating, or they could seek emergency intervention from the Supreme Court.

“We’ll use every tool at our disposal to fight this harmful order and protect our patients’ health care,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Abortion I 4.7.2020

Texas issued a ban on nonessential medical procedures in late March. State Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, warned that the ban applied to abortion, except where terminating a pregnancy was necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother. Failure to comply could bring financial penalties and jail time. The state said its restrictions apply to both surgical abortions and ones performed by taking medication.

A growing number of conservative-led states are attempting similar restrictions, citing public health and the need to preserve scarce protective medical equipment for the treatment of coronavirus patients.

Texas’ approach “ensures that hospital beds remain available for coronavirus patients and personal protective equipment reaches the hardworking medical professionals who need it the most during this crisis,” Mr. Paxton said after Tuesday’s ruling.

The state efforts sparked several lawsuits from abortion providers who say antiabortion politicians are using the crisis as an excuse to impose burdensome limits that they have long sought without success. The providers said extensive protective equipment isn’t used in most abortions, and they were taking additional steps to minimize the use of medical masks and gloves.

Several trial judges have issued initial restraining orders to block states from enforcing coronavirus abortion bans, saying the curbs appear to place an undue burden on a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy.

The Fifth Circuit’s ruling Tuesday split from a decision Monday by a different U.S. appeals court, which declined for now to let the state of Ohio impose restrictions on certain abortions.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Cincinnati, refused to disturb a ruling by a trial judge who allowed abortions in Ohio to proceed if a health-care provider determined the procedure couldn’t be delayed without jeopardizing a woman’s right to obtain the procedure.

The Sixth Circuit said it had no jurisdiction to intervene because the trial court’s initial ruling was temporary and wouldn’t inflict “irretrievable harms.” More legal proceedings in that case are set for later this month.

In Texas, abortion providers said women have been scrambling to make alternative plans. The Fifth Circuit already had blocked abortions temporarily to give itself about a week to consider the case.

Whole Woman’s Health, which operates clinics in three areas of Texas, said some of its patients have had to leave the state, including two who flew to Virginia last week.