As if a fatal worldwide pandemic wasn’t enough to worry about, Texas Governor Greg Abbott (truly one of the worst people alive) issued an emergency order on March 22 barring healthcare workers and providers from performing elective surgeries or procedures in order to “conserve” essential medical equipment for coronavirus patients. On March 23, Texas AG Ken Paxton (arguably an even worse person than Abbott) said that all clinics and hospitals must stop providing abortions unless the person with a uterus’ life was in danger, essentially violating their constitutional right to an abortion. Abbott, Paxton, and every other person who doesn’t believe in a person’s right to choose (adjusting my rhetoric here as not all people with uteruses are women!) don’t recognize that abortion is just as essential healthcare as coronavirus treatments. Because both conservative right-wing men have fought against the right to choose for their entire political careers, they’re using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to make it extremely difficult and traumatic for a people to rid themselves of anything in their body they don’t want.
While thankfully U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel in Austin blocked Abbott’s and Paxton’s policy, saying “Regarding a woman’s right to a pre-fetal-viability abortion, the Supreme Court has spoken clearly. There can be no outright ban on such a procedure. The attorney general’s interpretation of the Executive Order prevents Texas women from exercising what the Supreme Court has declared is their fundamental constitutional right,” a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily blocked his ruling and gave both sides until 5 p.m. on Friday to file briefs on the argument. The panel was split 2-1 with Judge James Dennis dissenting because he opposed putting a delay on Yeakel’s ruling. Dennis said “A federal judge has already concluded that irreparable harm would flow from allowing the Executive Order to prohibit abortions during this critical time,” opposing Judges Jennifer Walker Elrod and Stuart Kyle Duncan, the former who was appointed by George W. Bush and the latter by the current White House resident.
People who seek abortions do so for many different reasons—and none of which should be determined by politicians and/or men and/or anyone who feels they have a say in the matter. Last year, I wrote about the importance of preserving the right to choose. In that post (please excuse my language that carelessly excludes people with uteruses who don’t identify as women), I wrote “If a woman’s right to choose is revoked and SCOTUS repeals Roe v. Wade, women will die. No “pro-life” opinion can silence the fact that women will kill themselves if it means they don’t need to carry a fetus they do not want. Just like in the dark days before Roe, women will throw themselves down the stairs, get back alley abortions, and do anything it takes to remove the cluster of cells inside of them. Taking away the freedom of choice for women is sentencing all of us to death and saying that we are only wombs, not living people. We cannot allow politicians to force us to give birth or sentence us to life in prison for making decisions over our own bodies. If these bills go to SCOTUS, we will fight back, no matter what the cost.” As of right now, Roe v. Wade is still the “law of the land,” if you will, but Republicans (and honestly, some Democrats) in power specifically are constantly working their asses off to make it as difficult and painful as possible to get an abortion. But Abbott and Paxton can’t hide behind the guise of “rationing medical supplies” during the pandemic. They may not acknowledge that especially now, when people are locked in their homes (some with people they do not want to have children with) and the world seems like it’s on fire, abortion is and always will be essential healthcare.
Because the acceptable time frame to have an abortion varies state by state, people who want/need them only have a specific amount of time to have them done. According to Planned Parenthood, “Generally, in the US, abortion is an option from very early pregnancy (somewhere between 4-6 weeks, depending on where you go) until about 24 weeks. Abortions are available later than 24 weeks only in rare cases for medical reasons. In certain areas, it can be hard to find a health care provider who will do an abortion after the 12th week of pregnancy.” There is no later date that some people can get abortions without it suddenly being unavailable to them, which is why policies like the one Abbott and Paxton are promoting are essentially criminalizing healthcare and making it more dangerous for desperate pregnant people. Of course it’s important to treat as many coronavirus patients as possible, especially as the US hasn’t even hit its infection peak yet, but abortion is just as essential as any other life threatening virus, illness, or disease. We’ll see on Friday whether the attack on this crucial treatment continues in Texas. For now, please donate to Planned Parenthood, the National Network of Abortion Funds, and the Texas Equal Access Fund who are all hard at work maintaining and preserving the right to choose!