In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, communities and local governments are taking various measures to reduce strain on health care providers. Texas Governor Greg Abbott had already ordered health care facilities to postpone any procedures deemed not medically necessary, and on Monday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton specified that this order includes any abortions, unless the mother’s life is in danger.
The idea that our state’s leadership is using a time of crisis to push their own agenda is gross to me. While we obviously want as little contact between people as possible at this time, people cannot postpone their pregnancies and wait to get their abortion later. Even a person whose life may not be in danger by going through with the pregnancy may be endangered in secondary ways, such as having a child that then ties them to their abuser or rapist. Aside from this, people should not need reasons like that to have an abortion, anyway. A global pandemic should not strip us of our bodily autonomy.
Furthermore, this restriction — like any other restriction on abortion access — is not going to stop abortions; it is going to stop safe abortions. People who do not want to have a child can and will use other methods to terminate the pregnancy themselves, and many of these methods could be fatal to the individual. Alternatively, people may travel to another state to receive their abortion, which could endanger any amount of people considering we should all be avoiding travel at this moment to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
On March 27, Planned Parenthood Greater Texas shared they had already canceled 261 abortions since the order was shared. These health care providers are upset by this since their patients are now, on top of all the other troubles this situation has placed on us like loss of income and health care, having to contend with an unwanted pregnancy. This order is not alleviating clinics; it is frustrating care providers and putting their patients at risk.
By denying Texans the right to the reproductive health care they need, at this time and any time, Greg Abbott and Ken Paxton are hurting their constituents by exploiting our situation to push for their own beliefs on the subject. A group of abortion providers filed a lawsuit against Greg Abbott in response to the ruling, and a federal judge granted a temporary restraining order until April 13, blocking Texas from closing clinics in response to COVID-19 for now. This is a small win, but as we proceed we need to continue to make it clear: abortion is essential health care.