Panel: Texas can ban medical abortions to fight coronavirus

9 months 6 days 16 hours ago Monday, April 20 2020 Apr 20, 2020 April 20, 2020 2:35 PM April 20, 2020 in News - AP Texas Headlines
This Feb. 25, 2020 shows Preterm executive director Chrisse France in the procedure room, in Cleveland. Court decisions in two U.S. states Monday, April 6, allowed abortions to continue after the procedure was caught in the crosshairs of governors’ orders suspending non-essential elective surgeries due to the new coronavirus. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Texas can now ban medication abortions as part of the state’s effort to fight the spread of the new coronavirus, a federal appeals court panel ruled Monday.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans last week temporarily blocked the state’s prohibition on medication abortions while it gave more consideration to the issue.

The same panel, in a 2-1 decision, said Monday the state was within its rights to ban that — and other abortion procedures — as it sought to slow the use of masks, gowns and other protective medical gear.

The majority opinion by judges Jennifer Elrod and Kyle Duncan said a lower court erred by treating a medication abortion as “an absolute right.”

“But the constitutional right to abortion does not include the right to the abortion method of the woman’s (or the physician’s) choice,” the majority opinion said.

Clinics have argued that medication abortions do not require personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves and gowns that might be needed for coronavirus patients. Monday’s opinion said that it has not been proven that, during the pandemic, such protective equipment would not be used during an examination of a woman seeking a medication abortion.

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