Texas becomes latest state to halt abortion services amid outbreak

The Texas Attorney General’s office just ordered all clinics that provide abortion to immediately stop providing the procedure in order to comply with the state’s temporary suspension of surgeries that are not deemed “medically necessary,” according to a statement from the office shared with CBS News. Texas is the latest state to halt abortion services amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to the Attorney General’s office, “any type of abortion that is not medically necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother” must be suspended. Those in violation will face “penalties of up to $1,000 or 180 days of jail time.”

On Sunday evening, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order “to expand hospital bed capacity as the state responds to the COVID-19 virus.” On Monday afternoon, the state’s Attorney General, Ken Paxton, clarified that abortion services would need to be suspended as part of that directive.

“No one is exempt from the governor’s executive order on medically unnecessary surgeries and procedures, including abortion providers,” Paxton said in a statement shared with CBS News on Monday afternoon. “Those who violate the governor’s order will be met with the full force of the law.”

At the time of publication, it was not immediately clear whether or not the state’s 22 health clinics that offer the procedure would comply with the order. Planned Parenthood, which operates some of those facilities, did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

Texas joins Ohio in ordering the suspension of abortion service as part of state-wide directives to preserve personal protective equipment and other medical resources for those treating coronavirus. Over the weekend, Ohio’s attorney general issued guidance that any abortion procedure requiring the use of personal protective equipment, which includes things like gloves and masks, must stop as part of the state Health Department’s directive to discontinue “non-essential” surgeries.

But at least five of Ohio’s six surgical providers say abortion is essential and time-sensitive. Because of that, they say there won’t be any interruption of services.

“Planned Parenthood’s top priority is ensuring that every person can continue accessing essential health care, including abortion. We know your health care can’t wait,” said Iris E. Harvey and Kersha Deibel, the respective heads of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio and Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region, in a statement provided to CBS News. “Abortion is an essential, time-sensitive medical procedure.”

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Categories: Health, US & World News