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Abortion providers sue Texas over virus outbreak order

Last Updated Mar 25, 2020 at 8:14 pm EDT

FILE - In this Feb. 25, 2020, file photo, Executive Director Chrisse France talks about Preterm, the busiest abortion clinic in Ohio, in the procedure room in Cleveland. The governor and attorney general of Texas are moving to ban most abortions in the state during the coronavirus outbreak, declaring they don't qualify as essential surgeries. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)

AUSTIN, Texas — Planned Parenthood joined other abortion providers Wednesday in suing Texas over moving to ban abortions during the coronavirus outbreak, accusing Republican leaders of exploiting the pandemic to deliver on politics.

The federal lawsuit filed in Austin, Texas, is among the most high-profile challenges to a government response to the coronavirus pandemic. The chief executive of Whole Woman’s Health, an abortion provider with three clinics in Texas, said they cancelled 150 appointments this week after Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday issued an order that halted nonessential surgeries in order to free up medical supplies to fight COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

That was followed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, saying the order banned “any type of abortion that is not medically necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.”

The order in Texas is in effect until at least April 21.

“Abortion is essential healthcare, and it is a time-sensitive service,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, president of Whole Woman’s Health.

Paxton’s office did not immediately return a request for comment Wednesday.

The issue over abortion during the pandemic also has flared in Ohio, where abortion clinics received letters Friday from Republican Attorney General Dave Yost ordering them to cease all “non-essential” surgical abortions. Yost wrote that the procedures violate a March 17 order issued by the state health director.

However, representatives of Ohio clinics said that they were in compliance with the health director’s order and planned to continue providing abortions.

Paul J. Weber, The Associated Press



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