Fifth Circuit allows Texas to once again enforce ban on elective procedures against chemical abortions

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As part of an ongoing legal battle, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has once again rebuked a lower federal district court, allowing Texas to enforce a ban on elective medical procedures against chemical abortions as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.  This ruling effectively prohibits 98.5% of elective abortions in Texas until further notice in an effort to conserve personal protective equipment (PPE) and hospital capacity to respond to the coronavirus.

Governor Greg Abbott issued an initial executive order on March 22 prohibiting all elective medical procedures that require hospital capacity or the use of PPE until April 22.  Attorney General Ken Paxton quickly clarified that the order applies to elective abortions as well. Believing themselves exempt from all common sense safety standards, the abortion industry quickly filed suit against enforcement of the order in the Federal District Court of Judge Lee Yeakel, a loyal ally of the abortion industry.  He has now twice issued temporary restraining orders (TROs) on enforcement of Abbott’s executive order, both of which the Fifth Circuit has since overturned. 

Today, a three-judge panel for the Fifth Circuit issued a mandamus order vacating Judge Yeakel’s ill-founded TRO against chemical abortions, finding the TRO “usurped the state’s authority to craft emergency public health measures.”  As chemical abortions may consume PPE during the pandemic, Texas therefore has the authority to postpone them. The ruling does not apply to pregnant mothers who would exceed Texas’s 20-week ban on abortion after April 22, when the initial order expires. 

Last week, Governor Abbott issued a second executive order, extending to May 8 the prohibition against elective procedures that require hospital capacity or the use of PPE, with new exceptions that do not apply to abortion facilities.  With the new order, the abortion industry will undoubtedly continue the legal fight, defying the public health interests of the majority of Texans and frontline health care workers. Until then, Pro-Life Texans can rejoice as preborn children are spared from 98.5% of abortions in the state.

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