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Ohio Court Rules Abortions Can Continue Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Court decisions in two U.S. states Monday allowed abortions to continue after the procedure was caught in the crosshairs of governors' orders suspending all non-essential elective surgeries due to the new coronavirus.

The decisions in Ohio and Oklahoma responded to challenges by abortion rights groups.

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals declined to hear an appeal by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost seeking to reverse a judge's temporary restraining order allowing abortion facilities in the state to continue performing surgical abortions.

Stephanie Ranade Krider, vice president of Ohio Right to Life, the state's oldest and largest anti-abortion organization, said foes of the procedures were grateful to Yost for trying to hold abortion providers accountable.

Her organization and others had criticized clinics for carrying on with abortions that can require the use of personal protective equipment that's in intense demand to fight COVID-19.

"The abortion industry ought not interpret this as a loophole to continue ending innocent lives, push abortion on demand, and proceed with business as usual," Krider said in a statement.

The courts have mostly sided with the clinics, however, finding that women still have a constitutional right to an abortion even during a global health pandemic. A federal judge temporarily blocked a ban in Texas last week but the 5th U.S. Court of Appeals quickly put that ruling on hold, pending a review of the case.

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