Coronavirus: Judge Rules Alabama Can’t Block Abortions; Poland Seeks to Tighten

Coronavirus: Judge Rules Alabama Can’t Block Abortions; Poland Seeks to Tighten April 15, 2020

Coronavirus is a potential smokescreen to getting all sorts of things done or not done. Abortion is of particular target in the context of American jurisprudence.

Alabama has certainly been in the headlines:

A federal judge has ruled that Alabama cannot ban abortions as part of the state’s response to the coronavirus.

US district judge Myron Thompson on Sunday issued a preliminary injunction sought by clinics to prevent the state from forbidding abortions as part of a ban on elective medical procedures during the Covid-19 outbreak. He said abortion providers could decide whether a procedure could wait.

The US Center for Reproductive Rights filed emergency lawsuits in five states to thwart moves by legislators to ban abortion during the pandemic.

In the Alabama court judgement, Thompson said that based on the current record, the defendants’ efforts to combat Covid-19 did not outweigh the lasting harm imposed by the denial of an individual’s right to terminate her pregnancy, by an undue burden or increase in risk on patients imposed by a delayed procedure, or by the cloud of unwarranted prosecution against providers.

The ruling was a victory for abortion rights advocates who are fighting efforts in Texas, Ohio, Alabama and other states to prohibit abortion services during the Covid-19 pandemic. States have argued they need to conserve medical equipment and potential hospital beds during the outbreak.

Abortion clinics in Alabama said they sought the injunction after the state refused to clarify that the clinics could continue to operate.

Alabama had ordered a postponement of medical procedures except in cases of a medical emergency or to avoid serious harm from an underlying condition or disease, or necessary as part of a patient’s ongoing and active treatment. [continue reading…]

Inspiring protests in locked-down Warsaw, Poland is looking to make its regulations tighter as well:

Poland’s parliament will this week discuss a controversial proposal to tighten abortion laws in the country, as opposition politicians and women’s rights groups warn that the country’s conservative government may use the distraction of the coronavirus pandemic to push through the legislation.

Poland already has some of the strictest legislation in Europe on abortion, and previous attempts to tighten the laws further were abandoned after mass protests in 2016. The proposal comes from a citizen initiative, and it is unclear if the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party will support it, but president Andrzej Duda, a PiS ally, has said he would sign the law if it reaches his desk.

“For them, this is the best time to pay the debts they have to ultra-conservative groups,” said Barbara Nowacka, an opposition MP who was active in the protests four years ago. “We are really afraid that they will use the fact that citizens of Poland are really focused on their future and health right now, and not on values, sexual education, women rights.”

It’s very much similar to what the US has done with environmental legislation; this crisis has presented an easy excuse for the administration to rip out any remaining (largely Obama-era) environmental legislation. I’m hoping to write a piece on this, though I am busy prepping for my talk on the Resurrection tonight.

 


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