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ADF brief explains that elective abortions shouldn’t get a pass from executive order postponing all elective surgeries

Related Case: South Wind Women’s Center v. Stitt

** UPDATE: ADF has now filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in this case on behalf of the same parties. **

OKLAHOMA CITY – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing pro-life faith communities and leaders filed a friend-of-the-court brief in federal district court late Monday that supports the Oklahoma governor’s executive order that suspends all elective surgeries, including elective abortions, until April 30 to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Gov. J. Kevin Stitt’s order exempts non-elective abortions, but some abortionists in the state demanded that he carve out a special exception for elective abortions while all other elective surgeries are put on hold. Monday afternoon, the court issued a temporary restraining order that allows abortions to continue in only some circumstances through April 20. The court can either let the order expire or address the situation again at that time.

“Getting an abortion has never been an absolute right. The coronavirus didn’t suddenly turn it into one,” said ADF Legal Counsel Elissa Graves. “How is it that abortions are so special that they should be allowed to continue during the coronavirus crisis while all other elective surgeries—not to mention a vast array of other activities—are suspended? The answer is that they should be subject to the governor’s order as much as any other voluntary surgical procedure. Abortionists who seek to put their profit ahead of the well-being of women and staff who could be affected by COVID-19 shouldn’t be allowed to get away with their irresponsible demands.”

Additionally, the brief points out that, while pro-abortion advocates frequently argue that abortions are a “choice,” here they are seeking to make them more important than all other elective surgeries by claiming that the governor cannot subject them to his order.

“Everyone’s priority during this national crisis should be to protect vulnerable lives,” the brief states. “Others seeking elective medical procedures are making that immense sacrifice…. The abortion industry is demanding special treatment not to save lives, but to end them. This Court should not allow abortion businesses to drain critical medical resources from the front lines and flout social distancing requirements.”

The brief also explains that abortionists seeking to be exempt from the order don’t have sufficient legal standing to challenge the order in the first place. The abortionists “are not women protected by these laws and do not qualify for third-party standing to represent them,” the brief says, adding that the abortionists’ “interest in not being regulated by the Executive Order conflicts with the interest of women seeking safe medical services.”

“Pro-abortion advocates would have us believe that it’s perfectly fine for most other elective surgeries to be paused until the end of the month, but that purely elective abortions must continue even during a dangerous pandemic,” noted ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot, director of the ADF Center for Life. “That’s not an argument that most Americans are going to buy, and we are asking the court not to buy it either.”

ADF attorneys filed the brief with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma in South Wind Women’s Center v. Stitt on behalf of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tulsa, Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, Catholic Conference of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Baptists, and Oklahoma Faith Leaders.
  • Pronunciation guide: Theriot (TAIR’-ee-oh)

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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