Of Course Texas is the Latest State Trying to Stop Abortions During the Coronavirus Crisis

Illustration for article titled Of Course Texas is the Latest State Trying to Stop Abortions During the Coronavirus Crisis
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Barf BagWelcome to Barf Bag, a daily politics roundup to help you sort through the chaotic Trumpian news cycle.

Republicans in states around the country are doing their best to use the growing coronavirus epidemic in order to push through their rightwing, anti-abortion agendas. The latest—on Sunday night, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order to “postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately medically necessary” until April 21. In response, the state’s Attorney General Ken Paxton ordered all abortion clinics to stop providing “any type of abortion that is not medically necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother,” or face penalties of up to $1,000 or 180 days of jail time.

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The move by Republican officials in Texas comes on the heels of Ohio’s attorney general’s office ordering abortion clinics in Dayton, Cleveland, and Cincinnati to “immediately stop performing non-essential and elective surgical abortions.”

Framing these moves as a way to ensure that health care professionals have the resources they need, which is what officials in both Texas and Ohio have done, is an incredibly manipulative and underhanded way to sneak in anti-abortion measures under the guide of public health. In a statement to Jezebel, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas executive Aimee Arrambide wrote, “Abortion is essential healthcare, but especially in the wake of the public health crisis we are facing now.... Abortion is a procedure where time is of the essence and cannot be delayed without profound consequences.”

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Donald Trump and his band of goons—like Larry Kudlow and Steve Mnuchin, as well as Republicans like Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson and Pennsylvania Senator Patrick Toomeyclearly would rather see people die than take the needed measures to support Americans worried about their health (and how they will pay the rent on April 1). That’s the only possible takeaway from the fact that the Trump administration is beginning to signal that perhaps it’s time for people to go back to work and for restaurants, stores, and other businesses to reopen, social distancing guidelines be damned. But can you work if you’re dead or attached to a ventilator at an overwhelmed hospital, where medical staff are ALSO possibly dead or attached to a ventilator? Maybe we’ll find out!

Late on Sunday night, Trump tweeted, in all caps naturally, “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF. AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!” And during an appearance on Fox News on Monday, Kudlow echoed his dear leader, saying that “the cure can’t be worse than the disease and we will have to make some difficult tradeoffs.”

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After all, what’s hundreds of thousands of dead Americans compared to the plight of our nation’s CEOs, who are now fretting that they might not be able to buy their fourth vacation home? According to the Washington Post, Trump is more worried about how the plummeting economy and stock market will affect his reelection campaign and is “growing tired of talking only about coronavirus.”


  • Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are showing they maybe have spines after all, pushing back against a massive Republican coronavirus spending bill that essentially amounts to a corporate bailout with few provisions for actual workers. [Politico/Washington Post]
  • And on Monday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled a House version of the spending package. [NPR]
  • Can we just make Elizabeth Warren president? [MSNBC]
  • Let’s all contemplate the extreme stupidity of Republican Senator Rand Paul, who went to the Senate gym and pool after taking a test for coronavirus, which later came back positive. [Associated Press]
  • Amy Klobuchar’s husband also has covid-19. [Star Tribune]
  • White supremacist groups are now encouraging their members who contract covid-19 to spread the coronavirus to Jewish people and, um, cops? [ABC News]
  • Some good news: after organizing by Amazon workers, the company will now begin offering paid time off to part-time and seasonal employees. Now give them hazard pay! [BuzzFeed]
  • Remember how Michael Bloomberg promised to pay his campaign staff until November? Remember how he fired everyone last week, during a global pandemic where people are worried about losing their jobs? Now a former Bloomberg field organizer has filed a class-action lawsuit against the billionaire. [New York Times]
  • If you need to smile, here’s Representative Rashida Tlaib in full-on mom mode during Bernie Sanders’s livestream from Sunday night.
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Senior reporter, Jezebel

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Meanwhile, people are starting to die after taking Trump’s advice about chloroquine.

“Given the uncertainty around COVID-19, we understand that people are trying to find new ways to prevent or treat this virus, but self-medicating is not the way to do so,” said Dr. Daniel Brooks, Banner Poison and Drug Information Center medical director. “The last thing that we want right now is to inundate our emergency departments with patients who believe they found a vague and risky solution that could potentially jeopardize their health.”

A man has died and his wife is under critical care after the couple, both in their 60s, ingested chloroquine phosphate, an additive commonly used at aquariums to clean fish tanks. Within thirty minutes of ingestion, the couple experienced immediate effects requiring admittance to a nearby Banner Health hospital.

Most patients who become infected with COVID-19 will only require symptomatic care and self-isolation to prevent the risk of infecting others. Check first with a primary care physician. The routine use of specific treatments, including medications described as ‘anti-COVID-19’, is not recommended for non-hospitalized patients, including the anti-malarial drug chloroquine.

“We are strongly urging the medical community to not prescribe this medication to any non-hospitalized patients,” said Dr. Brooks.

And in Lousiana:

The Life Tabernacle Church hosted 1,825 people at their Sunday morning service. 26 buses were used to pick people up from around the Baton Rouge area and transport them to Sunday service. Pastor Tony Spell says the way to handle a pandemic is through the healing hand of Jesus.

That is our command, they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover.

Social distancing did not happen at the service, held outside. All 1,825 people were spread across the campuses seven buildings. Throughout the service parishioners could be seen touching each other and closely gathering, very few wearing masks or gloves. Spell says if anyone in his congregation contracts covid-19 he will heal them through God.

“I’m going to address that by laying hands on them and praying for them and depending on God to heal their body,” Spell said.

And finally, First Things (a conservative/evangelical journal) is here to tell us that social distancing is the moral equivalent of the Soviet gulag:

We, by contrast, are collectively required to cower in fear—fear that we’ll die redoubled by the fear that we’ll cause others to die. We are stripped of whatever courage we might be capable of. Were I to host a small dinner party tonight, wanting to resist the paranoia and hysteria, I would be denounced. Yesterday, Governor Cuomo saw young people playing basketball in a New York City park. “It has to stop and it has to stop now,” he commanded. Everyone must live under death’s dominion.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn resolutely rejected the materialist principle of “survival at any price.” It strips us of our humanity. This holds true for a judgment about the fate of others as much as it does for ourselves. We must reject the specious moralism that places fear of death at the center of life.

It’s literally as if all the anti-intellectual, anti-government, anti-social tendencies the right has developed over the past 40 years have conspired to come together at this moment to kill them all off.