Speed Reads


Judges block abortion bans in Ohio and Texas during coronavirus pandemic

Federal judges in Ohio and Texas on Monday blocked abortion bans enacted earlier this month amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

After the Ohio Department of Health temporarily suspended all "non-essential and elective surgeries" in order to avoid shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), Ohio Attorney General David Yost (R) said that meant abortions had to be "immediately" stopped. Texas did the same thing a few days later, with Gov. Greg Abbott (R) telling doctors to hold off on procedures that were not medically necessary and Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) saying that included "any type of abortion."

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel in Austin halted Texas' temporary ban, saying the order would cause patients to "suffer serious and irreparable harm." He also said the Supreme Court has "spoken clearly" on "a woman's right to a pre-fetal-viability abortion," and there "can be no outright ban on such a procedure."

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett said Ohio was unable to prove that performing surgical abortions would "result in any beneficial amount of net saving of PPE in Ohio such that the net saving of PPE outweighs the harm of eliminating abortion."