On Sunday, Governor Abbott issued an executive order to “postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately necessary” to preserve a patient’s life. The order will apply to all surgical abortions that are not required to save the life of the mother.
Following the governor’s order, pro-life organizations in the state declared a triumph, even if the order only lasts for a short time.
Texas Right to Life sent a press release stating that they are “grateful that the loss of life during the COVID-19 outbreak will be decreased thanks to the halt in abortions,” estimating that 2,868—two-thirds of the average abortions in a month—lives would be saved.
“We call on the State of Texas to expand the order to include chemical abortions as well,” said Texas Right to Life.
Texas Alliance for Life also noted the order on social media, asking anyone aware of violations of the order to send documentation to them.
Following Abbott’s executive order, it remained unclear if abortions would need to be postponed, given the exemption in the order for non-essential procedures provided that they “would not deplete the hospital capacity or the personal protective equipment needed to cope with the COVID-19 disaster.”
A representative of Texas Right Life told The Texan that the continued operation of abortions would be in violation of the order since they would require the use personal protective equipment, which should be given to hospitals in need of the supplies to treat coronavirus patients.
Attorney General Ken Paxton clarified in a press release on Monday that abortion providers are not exempt from the order, noting that the postponement of surgeries must include “any type of abortion that is not medically necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.”
“We must work together as Texans to stop the spread of COVID-19 and ensure that our health care professionals and facilities have all the resources they need to fight the virus at this time,” said Paxton in the press release. “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.”
Anyone who does not comply with the order can be fined up to $1,000 or be sentenced to up to 180 days of jail time.
The Texan reached out to Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas and Whole Woman’s Health for their response to the executive order and other steps they are taking during the coronavirus crisis, but we have not received a response at the time of publishing.
Planned Parenthood has pushed back against a similar order in Ohio, claiming that surgical abortions are “essential procedures.”
Abbott’s order became effective yesterday and will remain in force until midnight on April 21, unless prolonged further.
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.