April 14, 2020 / 2:42 AM / 4 months ago

U.S. appeals court blocks Texas curbs on medication abortion

FILE PHOTO: Demonstrators hold placards during a Planned Parenthood rally outside the State Capitol in Austin, Texas, U.S., April 5, 2017. REUTERS/Ilana Panich-Linsman/File Photo

(Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Monday blocked Texas from enforcing curbs on medication-induced abortions as part of the Republican-governed state’s restrictions aimed at postponing medical procedures not deemed urgent during the coronavirus pandemic.

The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowed a federal judge’s decision blocking the state from applying restrictions to abortions induced through medication to go into effect.

In an unsigned opinion, the three-judge panel said it was not clear if the state’s emergency order restricting abortion procedures covered medication-induced abortion.

Texas is one of several conservative states that have tried to impose limits on abortion during the pandemic, saying they are seeking to ensure that medical resources are available to help healthcare facilities cope with people with COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus.

Abortion rights advocates have accused the states of political opportunism, exploiting the pandemic to advance anti-abortion policies.

The abortion providers challenging the Texas restrictions said medication abortion, which involves taking two pills by mouth, should not be halted because it is not a procedure at all and does not require the use of protective equipment.

Reporting by Andrew Chung in New York and Lawrence Hurley in Washington, D.C.; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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