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Judges say abortions must go on

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott holds an order limiting travel from other states on Sunday. Associated Press/Photo by Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News

Judges say abortions must go on

Healthcare providers across the country have postponed elective surgeries during the COVID-19 outbreak, but courts are telling states they cannot require abortionists to do the same. Several governors have ordered a halt to nonessential medical procedures, including abortion, but federal judges in Alabama, Ohio, and Texas rolled back the measures on Monday. Judges are expected to rule soon in similar cases in Iowa and Oklahoma.

Why are courts protecting abortion in a pandemic? U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel in Texas said the governor’s order violated the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which involves the “right to privacy” the U.S. Supreme Court established in its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Only the Supreme Court could decide whether a national health emergency could temporarily suspend that right, the judge said. In Ohio, U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett instructed abortionists to determine on a case-by-case basis whether delaying an abortion could save resources such as personal protective equipment needed to fight the coronavirus.

Dig deeper: Read Leah Hickman’s report in Vitals about how states are regulating abortion facilities during the pandemic.

Editor’s note: WORLD has updated this report since its initial posting

Lynde Langdon

Lynde is editor of WORLD Digital. She is a graduate of World Journalism Institute, the Missouri School of Journalism, and the University of Missouri–St. Louis. Lynde resides with her family in Wichita, Kan.



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