Restrict abortion during COVID-19

Wednesday, April 8, 2020
Star Parker - Guest Columnist

Star ParkerThe AG of New York is supporting the efforts of Texas abortion providers to restore permissibility of abortion. She shouldn't be criticizing how those in Texas or any other state are dealing with the coronavirus crisis given that there is no place more out of control than New York.

Here are a few examples of headlines over recent weeks:

  • "Republicans exploit coronavirus to restrict abortions" (Los Angeles Times)
  • "The Coronavirus Becomes an Excuse to Restrict Abortions" (The New York Times)
  • "Texas women forced to travel 20 times farther for abortion under coronavirus ban" (The Hill)


Mississippi may soon move to temporarily close its only remaining abortion clinic because of the coronavirus pandemic.

During an interview on American Family Radio on Wednesday, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves explained that in light of the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling this week upholding Texas' executive order to shutter its clinics, his administration is making plans.

"Our lawyers have been reviewing it, looking at it," Reeves said, referring to the court ruling, "because we want to make sure that we have a similar order that meets the guidelines as set forth by the courts.

"One of the things that we have found over the years is Mississippi's laws would ensure that we're the safest place in America for an unborn child," the governor added. "That's something we want to continue."

Now that the state has guidance from the Fifth Circuit, Reeves promises to act quickly in issuing his executive order. Mississippi falls under the jurisdiction of the Fifth Circuit.

Five states – Texas, Ohio, Alabama, Iowa and Mississippi – that are prohibiting nonessential medical procedures during the novel coronavirus health crisis have included abortion among these nonessential procedures.

These measures have been taken with one objective in mind: saving lives. To suggest otherwise is cynical and obscene.

The logic is straightforward. There is a dire shortage of medical equipment, facilities and personnel. Plus, most states have mandated social distancing to arrest the spread of infection – requirements that would be impossible to adhere to in abortion clinics.

It so happens that halting abortion saves the lives of unborn children. This is always true. But prohibiting needed supplies from being tied up and enforcing distance will also save the lives of Americans under threat of the virus.

Abortion providers in Texas, led by Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider, filed suit against the state's decision to restrict abortions under these circumstances. Their claim was upheld in federal district court, and permission for abortions was restored. However, the state appealed the decision, and the appeals court reversed the decision and restored the restriction, pending a hearing on April 13.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James was interviewed on National Public Radio to discuss her efforts to organize opposition to efforts to include abortion as a prohibited, nonessential procedure during this crisis.

Per James, New York and 17 other states have filed an amicus brief to support Texas abortion providers' efforts to restore permissibility of abortion.

James says: "this ban does nothing, nothing to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus. ... Texas is doing nothing more than using this pandemic as an excuse to trespass on the rights of women and to treat them like second-class citizens."

This comes from the attorney general of New York, the state with the nation's highest abortion rate – and the nation's gravest challenges during this COVID-19 crisis.

How is it that the New York attorney general finds time to challenge how Texas is managing its fight against the coronavirus when her own state cannot manage its crisis?

As of this writing, there were 123,018 coronavirus cases in New York, amounting to 37% of all cases in the U.S. In Texas, there are 7,045. New York has 6,324 cases per million people. Texas has 243 per million.

The fatality rate in New York among confirmed cases is 3.38% compared with a fatality rate in Texas of 1.89%.

It should be clear that the attorney general of New York shouldn't be criticizing how those in Texas or any other state are dealing with this crisis given that there is no place more out of control than New York.

In the best of circumstances, crises, personal or national, should be a time of growth and learning. They should bring out the best in us rather than the worst.

I wish Americans would be equally shocked hearing that almost a million unborn children are destroyed in the womb every year as they are shocked hearing an estimated 100,000 to 240,000 will die from the coronavirus scourge.

You would think times like these would inspire humility and reverence for the miracle of life. Challenges like these should make us better Americans and better people.

But, apparently, things have become so coarse that that's not happening in many circles. It certainly doesn't seem to be happening in New York.

Maybe one day we'll grow. Meanwhile, the focus should be on saving lives, born and unborn.


Star Parker is president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education and author of the new book, "Necessary Noise: How Donald Trump Inflames the Culture War and Why This is Good News for America."

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