The Supreme Court handed a victory to advocates of abortion rights Monday, wiping lower court rulings off the books that had upheld a Texas order banning nearly all abortions in the state during the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Greg Abbott ordered a halt to nonessential medical procedures in late March to conserve hospital resources and personal protective equipment. Attorney General Ken Paxton then said the order applied to “any type of abortions,” including medical abortions that do not involve surgery.
A federal judge in Texas declared the order too broad and lifted the ban. But the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans restored it. In public health emergencies, the appeals court said, a state can restrict constitutional rights, including “one’s right to peaceably assemble, to publicly worship, to travel, and even to leave one’s home,” adding: “The right to abortion is no exception.”