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Appeals court maintains stay against Oklahoma's abortion ban

Abortion rights supporters demonstrate during the Stop Abortion Bans Day of Action rally at the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on May 21, 2019. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Abortion rights supporters demonstrate during the "Stop Abortion Bans Day of Action" rally at the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on May 21, 2019. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

April 14 (UPI) -- A U.S. circuit appeals court has let stand a lower court's decision to block Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt from banning abortion in the state through an executive order to preserve medical resources amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Republican governor issued the executive order prohibiting all elective surgeries on March 24, clarifying in a statement days later that it would cover abortions that are "not a medical emergency ... or otherwise necessary to prevent serious health risks to the unborn child's mother."

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The Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood Federation of America then filed a lawsuit at the end of March, and was awarded a temporary restraining order against the ban April 6, with U.S. District Judge Charles Goodwin ruling that the ban would cause "irreparable harm" to women unable to access the medical procedure.

That same day, Stitt filed for an appeal, which was denied Monday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

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"Today, Oklahomans can breathe a temporary sigh of relief," said Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, in a statement. "Instead of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Stitt is wasting valuable time and resources to attack essential, time-sensitive abortion services that cannot wait for a pandemic to pass. Gov. Stitt's relentless attacks on healthcare access during a public health crisis is making a dire situation even worse."

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The temporary restraining order is to expire April 20, and the state's abortion providers said they will file for a preliminary injunction to block the ban from taking effect until the case concludes.

The court's ruling was made as several other states are dealing with similar cases, including Alabama, Texas and Ohio.

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On Sunday, a federal judge in Alabama issued a preliminary injunction against the state from banning medical professionals from performing abortions while in Texas a coalition of abortion rights groups have asked the Supreme Court to block a federal appeals court's decision to block most abortions during the pandemic.

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