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Coalition of states fighting Texas on blocking abortions during pandemic
2020-03-27

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NEW YORK — New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced that she will be building and leading a multistate coalition of attorneys general from around the country to ensure women nationwide can continue to have access to abortions during the coronavirus disease 2019 ( COVID-2019 ) public health crisis. Attorney General James plans to file an amicus brief supporting the plaintiffs in Planned Parenthood v. Abbott, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, after the State of Texas earlier this week issued a directive banning nearly all abortion services in the state, using the coronavirus as an excuse.

"Texas and other states are using the coronavirus as an excuse to deny women their constitutional right to an abortion," said Attorney General James. "This is a full-on assault on women's reproductive rights not only in Texas, but across the country, and I will not allow any state to usurp the rights of women enshrined in the Constitution. I will soon be leading a coalition of attorneys general from around the nation to stop the Texas attorney general and any other attorney general who uses the coronavirus as a veiled assault on women's reproductive freedoms. I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the millions of women who are being attacked by these unconstitutional bans."

The coalition Attorney General James will build and lead will be filing an amicus brief supporting the lawsuit filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the Lawyering Project. The suit calls for the courts to immediately issue a temporary restraining order to block the ban. According to news reports, women in Texas have already been turned away when seeking an abortion because of the directive.

Yesterday, Attorney General James called on the federal government and states across the country to ensure women's access to safe, legal abortions are not jeopardized or curtailed as a result of the spread of COVID-19.

Since taking office last January, Attorney General James has been a leader in the fight to protect women's reproductive freedom. In January, Attorney General James co-led a coalition of seven attorneys general in filing a lawsuit against the Trump Administration for making it more difficult for women in New York and across the nation to access abortion services under the Affordable Care Act.

Also in January, Attorney General James filed an amicus brief, in Reproductive Health Services v. Planned Parenthood of St. Louis, challenging the constitutionality of several recently enacted abortion bans in the State of Missouri.

Additionally in January, Attorney General James secured a victory for women in Rochester seeking to have an abortion without being harassed, threatened, or blocked before entering a clinic when a district court judge dismissed a lawsuit by anti-abortion activists seeking to bypass a 15-foot "buffer zone" outside a local Planned Parenthood facility.

Even earlier in January, Attorney General James filed a multistate amicus brief in support of a lawsuit that seeks to protect a woman's right to safe and legal abortion care without the burdensome restrictions imposed by Arkansas laws. The brief — filed in support of the plaintiffs in Little Rock Family Planning Services v. Leslie Rutledge, now before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals — supports the last surgical abortion clinic in Arkansas as it challenges four state laws that would restrict the ability for women in Arkansas to access abortions by banning abortions after 18 weeks and otherwise restricting women's access to reproductive care.

In December 2019, Attorney General James filed an amicus brief defending the right to maintain full and equal access to birth control guaranteed under the Affordable Care Act for tens of thousands of women nationwide.

Also, in December 2019, Attorney General James led a multistate amicus brief in support of a challenge by petitioners in the case June Medical Services v. Gee — now pending in the U.S. Supreme Court — challenging a Louisiana law that requires abortion providers to maintain admitting privileges at a local hospital.

In October 2019, Attorney General James filed a multistate amicus brief in support of a lawsuit filed by the Jackson Women's Health Organization against the State of Mississippi, challenging a law that would prohibit abortions after as early as six weeks of pregnancy.

In September 2019, Attorney General James led a multistate amicus brief in support of a challenge filed by Kentucky clinics and physicians, challenging a Kentucky law that would ban physicians from providing second-trimester abortion services using the most common and safest procedure available for women after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

In August 2019, Attorney General James filed a multistate amicus brief in support of a lawsuit filed by the Whole Woman's Health Alliance against the State of Indiana after the state denied the clinics application for a license to open an abortion clinic that would provide medical abortions in South Bend.

In March 2019, Attorney General James co-led a coalition of 21 states in a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration's regulations that threaten essential services provided under federal Title X funding. The rule — also known as the "gag rule" — places an unlawful and unethical restriction on health care providers' ability to fully inform patients of the reproductive health services available to them by disallowing referrals for abortions and restricting counseling related to abortions. Another provision would require those who perform abortions to physically segregate their services — an expensive and potentially impossible requirement.

Finally, Attorney General James is litigating the appeal in People ex rel. James v. Griepp, to ensure that women who enter the Choices Women's Medical Center in Jamaica, Queens are not harassed, obstructed, or threatened by protestors.

—From a press release


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