The announcement in Texas on Monday sent abortion-rights advocates and their lawyers racing to determine how likely it was that clinics would need to stop abortion services.
“We are still waiting for various legal teams and local providers to work through what it means,” said the Very Rev. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, President of the National Abortion Federation.
Texas has a history of being on the vanguard of reducing abortion access. The last major Supreme Court decision on abortion, in 2016, involved a restrictive law in Texas. But it was still not clear on Monday evening whether the state’s abortion clinics would stop providing services. Some seemed determined to continue.
“Patients cannot wait until this pandemic is over to receive safe abortion care,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, president of Whole Woman’s Health, the abortion clinic that was at the center of the 2016 Supreme Court decision, in a statement.
In Ohio, where anti-abortion activists have gained influence in recent years, health authorities issued an order to postpone all nonessential surgeries at 5 p.m. on Wednesday. On Friday and Saturday, the office of the state’s attorney general, sent warning letters to abortion clinics in Dayton, Cincinnati and Cleveland, telling them to “immediately stop performing nonessential and elective surgical abortions.”
A spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, Bethany McCorkle, said the letters were based on complaints that had come to Ohio’s Department of Health. At least one came from Ohio Right to Life, an anti-abortion advocacy group, said its president, Michael Gonidakis.
In an email blast to supporters on Saturday, Mr. Gonidakis said he sent a letter to Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, warning its president, Iris E. Harvey, that “by performing surgical abortions, your company is putting the health and safety of all Ohioans in danger.”