The Ohio abortion clinics that challenged the state’s ban said inspectors visited their clinics on March 26 and 27 but never indicated whether or not they were found to be violating the prohibition. The clinics on Monday sued and asked for the temporary restraining order, arguing their “physicians credibly fear being immediately shut down and prosecuted if they continue to provide surgical abortions.”
Barrett, also a Bush appointee, agreed to halt enforcement of the ban while he hears arguments in the case.
He wrote the state did not make a convincing case that banning abortions would save enough masks and other gear for medical workers dealing with the pandemic to outweigh the “irreparable harm” it would cause to individuals wanting to terminate their pregnancies.
Lawsuits over abortion access during the pandemic are still pending in Iowa, Alabama and Oklahoma.
The American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights also filed lawsuits in Iowa, Alabama and Oklahoma challenging bans on surgical abortion during the pandemic as violations of Roe v. Wade.
“This ruling sends a message to other states: Using this pandemic to ban abortion access is unconstitutional,” said Nancy Northup, the president of the Center for Reproductive Rights.
As the red states move forward with bans, some progressive states are labeling abortion and family planning an essential service during the pandemic and exploring ways to make it easier for people to access these services without physically coming into a clinic.
On Monday, 21 state attorneys general led by California’s Xavier Becerra wrote to the FDA urging the agency to lift federal restrictions on telemedicine prescriptions of abortion pills.
“Denying women care and forcing them to travel unnecessarily is not only shortsighted, it is putting women across the country in harm’s way,” the letter reads.