Texas has effectively prohibited most abortions in the state with the support of a federal appeals court. The decision was made on Friday in a 2-1 vote.
The ban came as a part of Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order against all non-essential medical procedures amid the COVID-19 crisis. The anticipated ruling halted a lower court’s decision to oppose the state order earlier this month.
The two judges to rule in support of the policy have argued a state may implement measures that curtail constitutional rights “when faced with a society-threatening epidemic,” such as the coronavirus pandemic. However, many pro-choice activists have emphasized how the ruling could potentially interfere with the time-sensitivity of abortions.
The decision did make a narrow exception for abortions nearing the 22 weeks cut off.
Meanwhile, five other states, including Oklahoma, are also pushing legislation that deems abortion as non-essential amid the pandemic. Republican officials defended this move by saying it aims to conserve essential medical equipment during this time.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has supported the measure, saying abortion providers were “demanding special treatment.” Paxton also believes the measure justly prioritizes vital medical supplies for those fighting the coronavirus. He has said he plans to prosecute providers that continue to perform abortions.
Governor Abbott’s original March 22nd order is set to last until April 21st, but could be extended.