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Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Texas Ban On Abortions During Coronavirus Spread


By Ashley Lopez, KUT

A federal judge has temporarily blocked Texas’ ban on abortions during the coronavirus pandemic in the state.

U.S. District Court Judge Lee Yeakel in Austin ruled Monday that state officials can't restrict abortion providers from offering the procedure to their patients.

Texas officials  banned abortions last week as part of what they say is an effort to halt medical procedures that are “not immediately medically necessary” during the spread of the virus.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton argued in a legal brief submitted to the court Monday that the ban on abortions is an effort to “preserve desperately needed medical supplies for the health care professionals combatting the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.”  

“Medical professionals are in dire need of supplies, and abortion providers who refuse to follow state law are demonstrating a clear disregard for Texans suffering from this medical crisis,” Paxton wrote.

In his order, Judge Yeakel said the ban raised concerns the state was violating the constitutional rights of women in the state, as well as causing “irreparable harm” to those seeking the procedure.

“Regarding a woman's right to a pre-fetal-viability abortion, the Supreme Court has spoken clearly,” Yeakel wrote. “There can be no outright ban on such a procedure. This court will not speculate on whether the Supreme Court included a silent ‘except-in-a-national-emergency clause’ in its previous writings on the issue.”

The court blocked the ban until April 13, when the court plans to hold a 9:30 a.m. hearing by phone.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates. 

Carlos Morales is Marfa Public Radio's News Director.