March 25, 2020 - Today, a group of Texas abortion providers — represented by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Lawyering Project — sued Gov. Greg Abbott, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, and other state officials to ensure that patients can continue to access essential, time-sensitive abortion services during the COVID-19 pandemic. While doctors and nurses in his state work around the clock to care for patients suffering from COVID-19, Gov. Abbott has inserted his own political ideology into what should be personal, medical decisions.
As a result, providers, including Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast (PPGC), Planned Parenthood Greater Texas (PPGT), Planned Parenthood South Texas (PPST), Whole Woman’s Health, Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, Southwestern Women’s Surgery Center and their co-medical director, Dr. Robin Wallace, and Austin Women’s Health Center, have had to turn patients away.
Experts including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology agree that abortion is an essential, time-sensitive procedure that cannot be delayed. The groups note that delaying this care could “profoundly impact a person’s life, health, and well-being.” Delays or additional barriers to care can make it more difficult or even impossible for patients to access safe, legal abortion. For many people of color, who have always faced systemic barriers to health care and are more vulnerable to COVID-19, adding unnecessary restrictions on abortion access poses dangerous risks.
Statement of Ken Lambrecht, President & CEO, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas
“Along with other healthcare providers in Texas, Planned Parenthood is providing healthcare while carefully implementing COVID-19 public health guidelines. Anyone seeking an abortion in Texas already faces uncessary hurdles created by the Texas Governor and statewide politicians that make it difficult for patients to access abortion. Uninsured, low-income patients and people of color are already disproportionately impacted by Texas’ political mandates and will be even more at risk. Banning abortion due to COVID-19 is dangerous, unprecedented and does not protect public health.”
Statement of Melaney A. Linton, President & CEO, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast
“Protecting our patients’ health and access to comprehensive reproductive care is always our top priority. We know that sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion, is essential health care and it cannot be delayed. We will not allow politicians to take advantage of a global pandemic to advance their extreme anti-abortion political agendas. Texans already face far too many unnecessary restrictions and barriers to care even when we are not in the midst of a public health crisis. Planned Parenthood is an essential health care provider.
“We, like other health care providers, are on the frontlines ensuring patients receive the care they need and providing relief for the already fragile health care system while preserving important medical supplies. Our commitment to the communities who trust and rely on us only deepens in uncertain times like these. We stand on the side of our patients and their health, and we will not allow these political attacks to jeopardize their health and wellbeing.”
Statement of Jeffrey Hons, President & CEO, Planned Parenthood South Texas
“We are taking Governor Abbott to court to protect essential health care for Texas women and families trying to manage their personal lives amidst this pandemic. At Planned Parenthood, the safety and health of our patients, our staff, and our broader communities remains our highest priority as our country faces an unprecedented public health crisis. Make no mistake, we are doing our part to conserve needed resources and to protect the health and safety of our patients and staff. For years Governor Abbott has taken every opportunity to restrict access to abortion care. It is absolutely reprehensible that he is using a global pandemic to play politics with people’s health care.”
The plaintiff abortion providers are represented by attorneys from Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the Lawyering Project and the Law Offices of Patrick J. O’Connell PLLC. A copy of the complaint filed today can be found here.
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Texas is the 501(c)(3) organizing and education arm of the three Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas.