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Federal Judge Blocks Oklahoma's Coronavirus Abortion Ban

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Posted at 2:54 PM, Apr 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-06 15:54:15-04

An Oklahoma federal district judge granted a temporary restraining order that allows providers to continue essential and time-sensitive abortion care, officials say.

This order was at the request of Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of American and Dechert LLP.

Officials say this order is in spit of Gov. Kevin Stitt's order that required all minor medical procedures and elective surgeries to be postponed.

The temporary restraining order allows medication abortions to resume in the state of Oklahoma, as well as abortion procedures for those patients that would be "pushed beyond the gestation limit for care."

“The court has stopped Governor Stitt from exploiting this devastating pandemic as a weapon in his battle to ban abortion,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Abortion is time-sensitive, essential healthcare. Women in Oklahoma are again able, for the time being, to access abortion care in their state at a time when travel is even more challenging.”

"It’s a huge relief that we can start seeing patients again, at least for now,” said Julie Burkhart, founder and CEO of Trust Women. “We hope the court will keep the ban blocked so our patients aren’t forced to travel to other states to find abortion care at a time when travel is risky and discouraged.”

“Though this is a relief for patients, they should have never had to wait for a judge to rule before accessing the time-sensitive care they needed. Gov. Stitt is wasting valuable time and resources using the COVID-19 pandemic to score political points,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “To politicians and anti-abortion groups playing political games amid a pandemic, let this be a lesson to you that we won’t allow you to put our patients and the community at risk.” “Planned Parenthood is committed to ensuring that every person is able to get the essential health care they need,” McGill Johnson continued. “But the same cannot be said for Gov. Stitt. Planned Parenthood will work day by day, week by week to safeguard the ability of patients and the community to access essential health care, no matter what.”

“Today’s ruling is important because our patients need and deserve access to abortion care,” said Brandon Hill, Ph.D., president and CEO of Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood Great Plains. “Abortion is an essential and time-sensitive medical procedure that should not be caught in the crosshairs of political agendas—especially during this public health crisis. Access to health care is a basic human right, and every person deserves care that gives them control over their own bodies, lives, and futures. Planned Parenthood Great Plains will always be there for our patients. We will do everything in our power to ensure access for patients who need sexual and reproductive health care, including access to abortion.”

Oklahoma is not the only state to ban abortion during the COVID-19 pandemic, official say.

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