AUSTIN, Texas (CN) – Republican Texas officials Monday said abortions deemed not immediately or medically necessary must stop as part of a halt of non-essential surgeries ordered in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Attorney General Ken Paxton Monday singled out abortion providers in a press release about Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order halting unnecessary medical procedures as the state struggles to conserve medical supplies and expand hospital bed capacity to meet the surge of new patients.
Paxton said the ban includes “routine dermatological, ophthalmological, and dental procedures, as well as most scheduled healthcare procedures that are not immediately medically necessary such as orthopedic surgeries or any type of abortion that is not medically necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.”
Paxton said violators will face up to $1,000 in fines or 180 days in jail.
“No one is exempt from the governor’s executive order on medically unnecessary surgeries and procedures, including abortion providers,” Paxton said. “Those who violate the governor’s order will be met with the full force of the law.”
Abbott’s executive order remains in effect through April 21. It also suspends state regulations that limit the occupancy of hospital rooms, which allows hospitals to now treat more than one patient in a room and boost capacity.
Abortion opponents quickly cheered Abbott and Paxton’s announcements. Texas Right to Life said it is “grateful” for a decreased loss of life during the pandemic due to the restriction on abortion services.
“Pro-Life Texans have been appalled that the abortion industry has continued killing preborn children during the outbreak while statewide and local orders have recommended they close,” the group said in a written statement. “Furthermore, the abortion industry has been consuming and hoarding medical supplies that are in desperate need around the state including masks, gloves, and other protective gear for medical professionals.”
Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday evening.
Texas is the second state to warn abortion providers to cease offering the procedure in the wake of Covid-19. On Friday, Ohio ordered abortion clinics in the state to stop providing the procedure.
In a joint statement released March 18, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology, along with other medical groups, said they do not support responses to the Covid-19 outbreak that cancel or delay abortion procedures.
“To the extent that hospital systems or ambulatory surgical facilities are categorizing procedures that can be delayed during the COVID-19 pandemic, abortion should not be categorized as such a procedure,” the groups said. “Abortion is an essential component of comprehensive health care. It is also a time-sensitive service for which a delay of several weeks, or in some cases days, may increase the risks or potentially make it completely inaccessible. The consequences of being unable to obtain an abortion profoundly impact a person’s life, health, and well-being.