Federal judge blocks Oklahoma’s ban on elective abortions during COVID-19
OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma, April 7, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A federal judge blocked Oklahoma’s ban on elective abortions during the coronavirus pandemic. Governor Kevin Stitt had an executive order postponing “all elective surgeries,” later clarifying that this included abortions.
Judge Charles B. Goodwin, who was appointed by President Donald Trump in 2018, ordered on Monday that the prohibition on surgical abortions “may not be enforced with respect to any patient who will lose her right to lawfully obtain an abortion in Oklahoma.” Also, the prohibition “on medication abortions may not be enforced.”
The court concluded that “while the current public health emergency allows the State of Oklahoma to impose some of the cited measures delaying abortion procedures, it has acted in an ‘unreasonable,’ ‘arbitrary,’ and ‘oppressive’ way – and imposed an ‘undue burden’ on abortion access – in imposing requirements that effectively deny a right of access to abortion.”
Sign the petition asking governors to stop abortion during coronavirus, here.
Pro-life group Created Equal, which has been tracking states that are protecting or halting abortions during the coronavirus crisis, confirmed on March 29 that abortion centers in Oklahoma were complying with the ban on elective abortions.
At the time, Created Equal President Mark Harrington was optimistic. “Our phone calls to governors are having an effect. Babies are alive today because of the efforts of hundreds of pro-life Americans,” he said.
“Almost daily new states are issuing orders to stop the spread of COVID-19 by demanding that abortions stop. We need to keep the pressure on.”
Stitt “needs to enforce this order and tell the Federal courts they lack jurisdiction,” he said.
Harrington pointed out that even “during a national emergency abortion is treated as sacrosanct.” Federal courts, he continued, “routinely overturn the will of the states in setting abortion policy.”
However, supporters of abortion had taken legal action immediately after some states had issued bans on elective abortions in an effort to free up resources for the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
In March, LifeSiteNews reported on five organizations representing more than 30,000 pro-life physicians lamenting “the call to continue elective abortion during the COVID-19 pandemic,” characterizing it as “medically irresponsible.”
Elective abortions, they explained, are “falsely” characterized by various pro-abortion groups as “essential healthcare.” To continue with such procedures would “consume critical resources such as masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment, and unnecessarily exposes patients and physicians to pathogens.”
In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order on March 21, postponing any unnecessary medical procedures. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said that the suspension applied to “any type of abortion that is not medically necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.”
“No one is exempt from the governor’s executive order on medically unnecessary surgeries and procedures, including abortion providers. Those who violate the governor’s order will be met with the full force of the law,” Paxton promised.
Lee Yeakel, a federal judge, then ruled that the abortion industry must be allowed to continue business as usual in Texas after the abortion lobby sued the state.
Paxton stood his ground, filing for immediate appellate review in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which effectively put the restrictions back in place.
It is not yet clear what action Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt will take.
Stitt is a strong supporter of pro-life issues. In January, he issued an executive order banning state-funded travel to California, explaining that “California and its elected officials over the past few years have banned travel to the State of Oklahoma in an effort to politically threaten and intimidate Oklahomans for their personal values.”
“If California’s elected officials don’t want public employees traveling to Oklahoma, I am eager to return the gesture on behalf of Oklahoma’s pro-life stance. I am proud to be governor of a state that fights for the most vulnerable among us, the unborn,” Stitt continued.