Hawaii Attorney General Clare Conners joined a coalition of 18 attorneys general around the country to stop Alabama from banning nearly all abortions throughout the state during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“More now than ever we have to be vigilant about protecting comprehensive access to health care,” said Connors in a news release today. “There is no justification for using the COVID-19 crisis to delay or block the provision of reproductive health care services.”
Alabama’s State Health Officer issued an order suspending certain public gatherings to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, declaring that “all dental, medical, or surgical procedures shall be postponed until further notice.”
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall confirmed that the order, which went into effect March 28, includes abortion services, according to the news release.
“Attorney General Marshall issued a news release in which he clarified the order applied ‘without exception’ and falsely made a number of inaccurate claims about the risks abortion clinics have in spreading COVID-19, including that these clinics are depleting valuable personal protective equipment (PPE) and that abortions typically require hospitalization,” Hawaii’s Department of the Attorney General said.
On March 30, a temporary restraining order blocking the state from enforcing the ban was issued by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama.
The TRO came after a complaint was filed by Dr. Yashica Robinson and the Alabama Women’s Center, Reproductive Health Services and West Alabama Women’s Center — Alabama’s three independent abortion clinics.
On April 12, in a decision ordering a preliminary injunction, the district court noted that abortion becomes illegal after the 20th week of pregnancy in Alabama.
It stated, “This much is clear: for at least some women, a mandatory postponement” of abortions “would operate as a prohibition of abortion, entirely nullifying their right to terminate their pregnancies, or would impose a substantial burden on their ability to access an abortion.”
The attorneys general said that the ban would result in “some women losing their constitutional right to a legal abortion” and would force women to make “risky and expensive” travel plans across state borders to get an abortion.
They also say that an abortion requires far fewer PPE and medical resources than continuing with a pregnancy does.
Alabama has appealed the preliminary injunction.
Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee have also attempted to ban abortions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Conners joins the attorneys general in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia in filing the amicus brief.