Texas Is Now Free to Ban Abortions

Texas Is Now Free to Ban Abortions
Image: (Getty)

Republicans looking to deny access to safe abortion under the guise of caring about covid-19 scored a victory in Texas today, where the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of an immediate ban on abortions “not medically necessary to preserve the life or health” of patients.

On March 22, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order to “postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately medically necessary,” until April 21, which banned abortions under auspices of donating resources to hospitals treating covid-19. On March 30, the ban was briefly lifted when a lower court ruled it unconstitutional in response to a complaint jointly filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the Lawyering Project. But just one day later, three federal judges granted a temporary stay, which means the ban will resume.

In addition to depriving abortion seekers of their right to safe abortion, the ban also puts more people at risk for exposure to covid-19, as patients will now be forced to defy stay-at-home orders in order to travel to other states for access to abortion services. Despite the fact that his actions have directly placed constituents in danger, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton took the opportunity to strut around and squawk like he’d done something useful:

“I thank the court for their immediate and careful attention to the health and safety needs of Texans suffering from the spread of COVID-19,” Paxton said. “The temporary stay ordered this afternoon justly prioritizes supplies and personal protective equipment for the medical professionals in need.”

Other states, including Alabama, Ohio, Iowa, and Oaklahoma have attempted to implement similar bans, though judges have ordered lifts on restrictions in Alabama and Ohio. [CBS News]

The Trump family has never let the petty matter of ethics prevent them from mixing official government business with their personal capitalist pleasure, and they’re not about to start now by letting a nationwide health crisis impede their passion for conflict of interest. According to the Atlantic, Trump-in-law Jared Kushner may have gotten paid for creating a covid-19 information website that does not and will probably never exist:

“Oscar Health—a health-insurance company closely connected to Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner—developed a government website with the features the president had described. A team of Oscar engineers, project managers, and executives spent about five days building a stand-alone website at the government’s request, an Oscar spokesperson told The Atlantic.”

But after Oscar employees met with federal officials to build a website that would have looked “like a government-developed product, provided freely by the Department of Health and Human Services to the American public,” the entire project was abandoned, according to a source at Oscar. The website would have surveyed users on covid-19 symptoms and risk factors, along with providing what limited information there is about testing centers.

The company says it was approached to build the website after a March 13 press conference in which Trump promised such a website was already in development with Google, which was not true. Oscar’s involvement with the project presents a number of ethical problems, including conflict of interest stemming from the company’s connection to Kushner and the fact corporations are not actually supposed to work for the government for free. Meanwhile, Apple has launched a similar tool on its own website, and the White House has declined to comment on any of it. [Atlantic]

  • What are other corporations doing to blur the line between government and business, you ask? Well, some rich pillow salesman was allowed to seem like a covid-19 expert in front of the White House, for a start. [Politico]
  • Turns out, getting that $1,200 requires filing taxes, leaving some of the people who need it most unable to access their money. [The Appeal]
  • Elizabeth Warren and Ayanna Pressley would like some demographic data around who is being tested and treated for the virus that causes covid-19. [AP]
  • Possibly because the president might be giving more aid to states that are nice to him. [Washington Post]
  • So sorry to be the one to break it to y’all, but Laura Ingraham has been spreading misinformation. [Politico]
  • Someone please go and help the people on this goddamn aircraft carrier. [San Francisco Chronicle]
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