Politics

Confusion Reigns Over Texas Abortion Ban As Executive Order Ends, Abortion Clinics Open

(Photo credit MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

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Mary Margaret Olohan Social Issues Reporter
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Some abortions in Texas may continue during the pandemic, the attorney general’s office told the Daily Caller News Foundation on Thursday.

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s March 21 ban on non-essential medical procedures expired Tuesday night, and his new executive order went into effect Wednesday. This order, which followed weeks of legal battles over Texas’s abortion ban, also banned non-essential medical procedures but offers exceptions for medical providers that do not make use of hospital beds or personal protective equipment (PPE), CBS reported.

Confusion remains regarding whether Abbott’s order offers exceptions for abortions. When Abbott’s initial order went out prohibiting non-essential medical procedures, Paxton’s office was quick to clarify that the order included abortions. (RELATED: Federal Court Cites Emergency Powers, Backs Texas Abortion Ban)

But after multiple lawsuits by abortion advocates throughout the nation, Paxton’s office said Thursday that it does not interpret rules or regulations, but rather defends Texas in lawsuits.

“We will continue to defend Governor Abbott’s executive orders,” spokeswoman Kayleigh Date told the DCNF, noting that while Executive Order GA 15 applies to “all licensed health care professionals and all licensed health care facilities,” and the order does not contain specific exemptions for abortion providers, Planned Parenthood has submitted certifications required by the order and is therefore not at risk of enforcement.

Planned Parenthood of the Gulf Coast, which did not respond to a request for comment from the DCNF, tweeted Thursday announcing that “abortion services have been restored in Texas.” (RELATED: Planned Parenthood Requests Donations Of PPE For Abortions During Coronavirus Pandemic)

Melaney A. Linton, president & CEO of PPGC, added in a statement that the “state’s political posturing unnecessarily jeopardized Texans’ health and wellbeing, and every time we were forced to suspend care, real people suffered.”

Abbott shied away from saying whether abortions would be prohibited in his new executive order only. The Texas governor, who has not responded to a request for comment, said earlier in April that “ultimately, obviously that will be a decision for courts to make,” according to The Texas Tribune.

Three Whole Woman’s Health clinics are open for business Thursday, president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health and Whole Woman’s Health Alliance Amy Hagstrom Miller told the DCNF.

“We are pleased to see this legal whiplash come to an end,” said Hagstrom Miller. “For the past month our patients were pawns in a cruel game played by the governor and attorney general and it was unconscionable. Our staff had to cancel hundreds of appointments and we heard the anguish and despair that our patients went through.”

SOUTH BEND, INDIANA - JUNE 19: A sign sits in the front of Whole Woman's Health of South Bend on June 19, 2019 in South Bend, Indiana. The clinic, which provides reproductive healthcare for women including providing abortions is scheduled to open next week following a nearly two-year court battle. Part of the Texas-based nonprofit Whole Woman's Health Alliance, the clinic will offer medication-induced abortions for women who are up to 10 weeks pregnant. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

SOUTH BEND, INDIANA – JUNE 19: A sign sits in the front of Whole Woman’s Health of South Bend on June 19, 2019 in South Bend, Indiana. The clinic, which provides reproductive healthcare for women including providing abortions is scheduled to open next week following a nearly two-year court battle.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Hagstrom Miller added: “Texans must never forget the events of this past month. Abortion is essential health care.”

Whole Woman’s Health did not respond to a request for comment as to whether the clinics had received guidance from Paxton’s or Abbott’s offices on remaining open.

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