Attorney General James Applauds Courts for Standing Up for Women’s Reproductive Rights During Coronavirus Pandemic

AG James Previously Announced She Will Lead Multistate Coalition
Fighting to Ensure Abortion Remains an “Essential” Service

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today released the following statement after a federal judge ensured that women in the State of Texas and those all over the country can continue to access the reproductive care they so choose, after he stopped Texas from enforcing an order — issued last week — that bans nearly all abortions in the state, using the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health crisis as an excuse:

“This is welcome news for every woman in the State of Texas and in the multitude of other states that are using the coronavirus as an excuse to trample on women’s reproductive rights. No state has the right to deny a woman her constitutional right to an abortion, even during a national emergency, and the court made that perfectly clear today. As the lawsuit to stop this order continues, I will be leading a coalition of attorneys general from around the nation to stop Texas and any other state that uses the coronavirus as a veiled assault on women’s reproductive freedoms.”

This afternoon, Judge Lee Yeakel of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas issued a temporary restraining order that stops Texas from enforcing the order issued one week ago today. The lawsuit, Planned Parenthood v. Abbott — which was filed last Wednesday by the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the Lawyering Project to permanently stop the order — will continue in the meantime.

In his ruling today, Judge Yeakel made clear Texas’s ban is an unconstitutional infringement of women’s reproductive rights. “Regarding a woman’s right to a pre-fetal-viability abortion, the Supreme Court has spoken clearly. There can be no outright ban on such a procedure,” stated Judge Yeakel, adding, “This court will not speculate on whether the Supreme Court included a silent ‘except-in-a-national-emergency clause’ in its previous writings on the issue. Only the Supreme Court may restrict the breadth of its rulings.”

On Friday, Attorney General James announced that she will soon lead a multistate coalition of attorneys general from around the nation in filing an amicus brief supporting the plaintiffs in the suit. This action is just one of a number that Attorney General James has taken to protect women’s access to abortion coverage since the spread of COVID-19 began in the United States. Earlier today, Attorney General James sent a letter to both the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requesting that the Trump Administration waive or utilize its discretion not to enforce its Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) designation, which dictates and subsequently impedes women’s access to the medical-abortion prescription drug known as Mifepristone. The attorneys general called on the Trump Administration to ensure that women across the country can more easily access this critical health care service while the pandemic leaves many women unable to seek in-person care.

And, last week, Attorney General James called on the federal government and states across the country to ensure women’s access to safe, legal abortions are not jeopardized or curtailed as a result of the spread of COVID-19.