Federal judge: Oklahoma abortion ban can’t be enforced

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s attempt to ban abortions during the coronavirus pandemic cannot be enforced, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Charles Goodwin issued a preliminary injunction late Monday after abortion providers sued Stitt over the ban. The injunction replaces a temporary restraining order that the same judge issued last week that allowed most abortions to continue.

The injunction ensures that abortions can be performed in Oklahoma while the case continues in federal court. Stitt’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but a spokesman for Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said he intends to appeal the decision.

Stitt attempted to ban abortions in Oklahoma as part of a prohibition on elective surgeries aimed at preserving personal protective equipment, such as surgical masks, gowns and gloves, during the public health crisis. Governors across the country have issued executive orders halting nonessential medical surgeries to free up hospital staff, space and equipment, and Republicans have said abortions should be included under those mandates. Those bans, including Oklahoma’s, have been challenged in courts by Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Reproductive Rights and local lawyers in each state.

“Abortion is essential, time-sensitive medical care that should not be caught in the crosshairs of political agendas, especially during a public health crisis,” Brandon Hill, president and CEO of Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, said in a statement.

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