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Appeals court allows Texas abortion ban to remain during coronavirus outbreak

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Gov. Greg Abbott. Photo: Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images

Appeals court allows Texas abortion ban to remain during coronavirus outbreak
A federal appeals court in Texas ruled 2-1 in favor of an executive order by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday that prohibits abortions during the coronavirus outbreak.
The big picture: Abbott last month issued the order banning elective procedures in an effort to save medical supplies like masks and gowns for health workers treating the coronavirus. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton noted one day later that the order applied to abortions — unless the woman's life is at risk.
  • U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel had ruled against the order last week, arguing that the prohibitions amounted to a ban on a woman's right to an abortion.
Citing previous rulings, the two majority judges on the appeals court argued: "'[U]nder the pressure of great dangers,' constitutional rights may be reasonably restricted 'as the safety of the general public may demand.'" 
  • "That settled rule allows states to restrict, for example, one's right to peacefully assemble, to publicly worship, to travel, and even to leave one's home. The right to abortion is no exception."
The dissenting judge countered: "In a time where panic and fear already consume our daily lives, the majority’s opinion inflicts further panic and fear on women in Texas by depriving them, without justification, of their constitutional rights."



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