Alabama will not be able to include abortions under its umbrella of “elective medical procedures” banned during the covid-19 pandemic, thanks to a judge who issued an injunction against the state’s attempted measure.
CBS News reports that U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson issued a preliminary junction in favor of abortion clinics who wanted to ensure they could stay open amid stringent social distancing mandates. Thompson said abortions were essential medical procedures, and that allowing patients to continue to receive essential care would not hamper Alabama’s efforts to battle covid-19. He wrote:
Based on the current record, the defendants’ efforts to combat COVID-19 do not outweigh the lasting harm imposed by the denial of an individual’s right to terminate her pregnancy, by an undue burden or increase in risk on patients imposed by a delayed procedure, or by the cloud of unwarranted prosecution against providers.
Of course, the abortion ban had nothing to do with covid-19, but merely presented a convenient opportunity for the staunchly anti-abortion state government to make their play. Alabama is but one of many states—including Texas, Ohio, and Oklahoma, to name a few—who are using the pandemic as a cover to hamper women’s access to reproductive care. Planned Parenthood’s suit against Texas’s abortion ban made it to the Supreme Court on Saturday, after a panel of Fifth Circuit judges ruled in favor of the state last week.
At least in Alabama, clinics can stay open for now, though this certainly isn’t the end of the state’s battle against abortion. Alabama attempted a draconian near-total ban on abortions last year; thankfully, a federal judge blocked that ban in October, but it’s just a matter of time until Republicans in the state try to go for it again, virus or no virus.