On April 11, Texas abortion providersrepresented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, the Lawyering Project and Planned Parenthood Federation of Americaasked the U.S. Supreme Court to take emergency action regarding the state's suspension of abortion services during the coronavirus pandemic.
The emergency request comes after the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals granted most of the state's request to stay a federal district court's second temporary restraining order.
According to a joint press release from the representative organizations, leading medical expertsincluding the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecologytold the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that abortion should not be delayed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Below is a timeline of legal actions related to the case:
March 25: A group of Texas abortion providers sued Gov. Greg Abbott and other state officials to ensure that patients can continue to access essential, time-sensitive abortion services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
March 30: A federal district judge granted Texas abortion providers a temporary restraining order to allow abortion services to continue for the time being during the COVID-19 pandemic.
March 31: The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals put a temporary pause on the temporary restraining order granted by the district court only one day earlier while they reviewed the district court's order, resulting in severely restricted abortion access in Texas. This stay order was granted before abortion providers could make their case to the court.
April 7: In a two-to-one decision, a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals used a rare procedural mechanism to rule that the district court was wrong to grant emergency relief to protect access to essential, time-sensitive abortion care. This allowed the State of Texas to continue using Gov. Abbott's COVID-19 order to block access to abortion. Press release here.
April 9: A federal district court granted a second temporary restraining order against Gov. Greg Abbott's COVID-19 order. This decision allowed abortion providers to resume medication abortion as well as abortion procedures for patients who would be unable to access abortion due to their gestational age on April 22 ( the day after Gov. Abbott's executive order is set to expire ).
April 10: For the second time, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against abortion providers, this time granting a stay reversing in part the federal district court's latest temporary restraining order ( granted April 9 ), which means abortion is once again largely inaccessible in Texas.