Some Republicans say it’s God’s punishment for a sinful society. Others say it’s an anti-Trump hoax. But here’s a take you’ve probably never heard before: COVID-19 saves lives.
That’s the claim made by Kathaleen Wall, a Texas Republican running for Congress in 2020, in a particularly ill-advised Facebook post thanking Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton for declaring abortions non-essential medical care, effectively shutting down abortion clinics across the entire state.
Thanks to the leadership of Office of the Governor Greg Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, #COVID19 will save more lives this week than it takes! #ProLife
The message came with a link to an article from right-leaning media site Texas Scorecard, which praised the governor’s decision in very similar terms:
Over the weekend, Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order banning all unnecessary medical procedures in an effort to make more resources available to fight the Chinese coronavirus and save lives.
Now it appears the order may save even more lives than originally thought, as the state’s top lawyer confirms that abortions must stop as well.
Abbott’s executive order came into effect over the weekend, but it wasn’t until Monday that Paxton publicly clarified that abortion was classified as an elective procedure that could be postponed, excepting cases deemed “medically necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.”
But with the politically contentious issue of abortion, the medical needs of prospective parents are often secondary to the political opinions of those who have the power to grant or deny the procedure. Abortion opponents frequently contend that abortion is virtually never medically necessary, refusing to recognize mental health as a dimension of “health of the mother” and dismissing all but the most dire and immediate physical dangers.
As for the question of abortion during the pandemic, a coalition of experts from eight professional societies for pregnancy-related medical care, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, have stated unambiguously that abortion-related medical care can’t wait for the end of the pandemic:
To the extent that hospital systems or ambulatory surgical facilities are categorizing procedures that can be delayed during the COVID-19 pandemic, abortion should not be categorized as such a procedure. Abortion is an essential component of comprehensive health care. It is also a time-sensitive service for which a delay of several weeks, or in some cases days, may increase the risks or potentially make it completely inaccessible. The consequences of being unable to obtain an abortion profoundly impact a person’s life, health, and well-being.
Given the scope of expert opinion, it’s easy to see Abbott and Paxton’s decision for what it was: an excuse to score political points and shut down an unpopular but constitutionally protected medical service, while using the COVID-19 crisis as a shield against backlash.
Planned Parenthood isn’t fooled. They’ve filed an emergency lawsuit against the state of Texas, alleging that Paxton has singled out abortion providers in “a blatant effort to exploit a public health crisis to advance an extreme anti-abortion agenda” and arguing that there will be no pandemic-response benefit “in terms of preventing or resolving shortages of PPE or hospital capacity.”
But for Kathaleen Wall, who promises on her campaign website to “never give up on protecting innocent human life,” the public health benefits of an abortion ban are beside the point. So are the challenges of financing a family in a time of rampant job loss, or the far greater strain prenatal care and childbirth would place on America’s overburdened health providers.
As for whether it’s a good political move, that remains to be seen. Texas’ 22nd Congressional District is considered a battleground district by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The region’s increasingly diverse and educated electorate just might decide that crowing over other people’s lost access to time-sensitive medical care is a very bad look indeed.
(Top image via Facebook)