Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in an interview with CBS News he expects the state’s coronavirus abortion ban to reach the Supreme Court.
Conservatives hold a 5-4 majority in the Supreme Court and have been criticized by liberal justices including Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg for many recent decisions.
In February, Sotomayor accused conservative justices of being biased in favor of the Trump administration after conservatives delivered a 5-4 victory in favor of allowing the Trump admin “wealth test” for immigrants for green cards to continue.
CBS News reports as coronavirus cases continue to climb in the U.S., another public health crisis is brewing. State officials in the South and Midwest have banned most abortions amid the pandemic, arguing the action is necessary to free up resources to fight the virus. On Tuesday, a federal appeals court allowed Texas to continue its near-total ban on the procedure.
In an exclusive interview with CBS News, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he’s committed to defending the state’s near-total ban on abortion all the way to the Supreme Court. Two weeks ago, Paxton issued guidance that abortion services were included in the Governor’s temporary suspension of “non-essential” procedures in an effort to shore up medical resources needed to fight the coronavirus outbreak.
“My guess is it’ll go to the Supreme Court either way,” Paxton told CBS News last week. “We’ll either appeal it or Planned Parenthood will appeal it, so my guess is that’s where it ends up.”
Since Paxton’s guidance was issued, nearly all abortions in the state have been halted, except when the life or health of the patient is at risk. The ban was briefly lifted last week when a lower court ruled the suspension of abortion services was unconstitutional. But less than 24 hours later, a three-judge panel in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision, allowing the ban to go back into effect. It’s the first time abortion has been mostly unavailable in a state since Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized the procedure.
A coalition of abortion rights supporters — which includes Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Lawyer Project — have challenged the near-total ban on behalf of a handful of abortion providers in the state. In the meantime, patients in Texas have fled to neighboring states to obtain the procedure, according to interviews with nearly two dozen women.
Texas is among five states facing legal battles over restricting abortion access during the pandemic, and the one furthest along in the judicial process. In a sweep of legal filings last week, a coalition of abortion rights groups challenged similar bans in Alabama, Iowa, Ohio and Oklahoma. So far, judges have ordered bans to be at least partially lifted in Alabama, Ohio and Oklahoma.