Judge stops Texas from banning abortions during coronavirus crisis

A New Orleans federal appeals court ruled that Texas authorities could not include medical abortion on the list of "non-emergency" medical procedures prohibited while the COVID-19 outbreak continues

A US federal judge on Monday suspended a Texas state decision that included abortion among non-emergency operations banned during the coronavirus pandemic.

"The Supreme Court has spoken clearly. There can be no outright ban on such a procedure," said federal judge Lee Yeakel in his court ruling.

Like other states, Texas has outlawed non-medical procedures so that all health equipment and resources can be targeted at the coronavirus outbreak.

The Texas attorney general said the ban applied to abortions except when the patient's life was at risk.

Since then, four other conservative states, Ohio, Iowa, Alabama and Oklahoma, have followed suit.

"It's alarming, and unacceptable that states long hostile to abortion rights are exploiting the coronavirus crisis to ban abortion care," said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

The Texas attorney general is set to appeal the federal court judge's ruling, according to US media.

President Donald Trump has increasingly aligned himself with the anti-abortion movement as he works to firm up his voter base ahead of the November election, when he hopes to win a second term.