Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine launched a study on March 23 examining the effects of the new coronavirus on pregnant mothers and their babies. Due to a lack of data, scientists have few solid answers to give women who want to know how the virus will affect them and their unborn children. The study—conducted by the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists—will seek to erase a few of those question marks by following up with and observing infected women during and after pregnancy. —L.H.
Many patients and doctors in the United States are putting off routine and elective medical appointments and procedures to conserve resources for COVID-19 patients. But some abortion businesses are still providing elective abortions, many in defiance of government orders.
A majority of state governments have ordered hospitals and clinics to cease nonessential medical procedures. At least 10 states have made specific exemptions for abortion facilities, while others have specifically told abortionists to put procedures on hold.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced last week that statewide COVID-19 restrictions ordered by Gov. Greg Abbott applied to abortion providers.
“Those who violate the governor’s order will be met with the full force of the law,” Paxton said.
The order effectively halted abortion in Texas while the pandemic lasts, but several pro-abortion abortion groups sued the state on Wednesday, calling abortion “an essential, time-sensitive medical service [that] cannot be delayed.”
A federal judge on Monday issued a temporary restraining order on the ban while the lawsuit goes through the courts. U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel said Abbott’s order violated the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which involves the “right to privacy” the U.S. Supreme Court created to justify the legalization of abortion in its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. “There can be no outright ban on such a procedure,” the judge wrote.
“We are disappointed in the court’s decision,” a spokesman for Paxton said in a statement. “We’ll seek appellate review promptly.”
(Editor’s note: Texas won that appeal on Tuesday.)
Federal judges in Alabama and Ohio similarly rolled back measures that included abortion on a list of nonessential medical procedures.
In Ohio, the state health department mandated on March 18 that healthcare providers stop all surgeries and procedures that could “be delayed without undue risk to the current or future health of a patient.” At the urging of pro-life groups, the state attorney general’s office issued on March 20 a cease-and-desist order to two Ohio abortion businesses. But on Monday, U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett instructed abortionists to determine on a case-by-case basis whether delaying an abortion could save resources such as personal protective equipment needed to fight the coronavirus. Similar lawsuits are pending in Iowa and Oklahoma. —L.H.
Editor’s note: WORLD has updated this report since its initial posting.