After a district court issued a temporary restraining order to allow abortion facilitators in the state of Texas to continue operating amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay on the decision.
Judges Jennifer Walker Elrod and Stuart Kyle Duncan ruled in favor of the stay, while Judge James Dennis dissented, saying that he agreed with the district court.
Under the new developments, the state can continue to enforce an executive order from Governor Greg Abbot requiring the postponement of non-essential surgeries, which Attorney General Ken Paxton said applied equally to elective abortions.
The executive order was issued to increase the amount of hospital beds and personal protective equipment (PPE) in preparation of the spread of COVID-19.
It became effective on March 22 and will last through April 21, with penalties for violations of the order including a fine of up to $1,000 or up to 180 days of jail time.
Judge Lee Yeakel, whose order the Fifth Circuit has overruled, argued that the “benefits of a limited potential reduction in the use of some personal protective equipment by abortion providers is outweighed by the harm of eliminating abortion access in the midst of a pandemic.”
Legal replies to the Fifth Circuit from the parties involved in the case are due by the end of the week.
“The temporary stay ordered this afternoon justly prioritizes supplies and personal protective equipment for the medical professionals in need,” said Paxton in a press release.
“The Governor’s Order temporarily halting unnecessary medical procedures, including abortion, applies to all health care facilities and professionals equally as Texans come together to combat this medical crisis.”
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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.