Abortions in Texas can resume following a legal battle over a governor’s order that was interpreted as restricting the procedure to preserve personal protective equipment during the coronavirus pandemic.
A new executive order by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott loosens limits put in place last month. It allows elective medical procedures to resume if a health care facility agrees to “reserve at least 25% of its hospital capacity for treatment of COVID-19 patients” and “not request personal protective equipment from any public source throughout the pandemic.”
Both points must be certified in writing to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) under the new order, which took effect Wednesday.
Abbott in late March had ordered all procedures that weren’t medically necessary to be postponed, and Texas’ attorney general clarified that the rule included abortions that were “not medically necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.”
The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals this week upheld the original order and ruled it included abortion. Abortion providers sought an injunction.
As the second executive order took effect, abortion providers said they meet its criteria, and the attorney general’s office did not dispute that in a court filing Wednesday.
“All the Plaintiff abortion clinics have submitted certifications, and HHSC has acknowledged receipt of those certifications,” the state wrote, adding the providers have “no legal basis” for an injunction because there is no longer an issue.
The attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to CNN’s request Wednesday night for comment.
“Finally, women in Texas can get the time-sensitive abortion care that they are constitutionally guaranteed. Women never should have had to go to court to get essential health care,” Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents some of the providers, said in a statement.
“We will be vigilant in ensuring there are no future interruptions to services, including by assessing the appropriate next steps to take in the case,” the statement said.