Life in the Time of Coronavirus

The Abortion Provider Who Was Forced to Turn Away Women Halfway Through the Process

A series about how this pandemic affects our lives, our loved ones, our work, and our way of life

Lindsay Beyerstein
GEN
Published in
7 min readApr 1, 2020

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Photo illustration. Image sources: Scott Olson/Getty Images, 4x-image/Getty Images

Life in the Time of Coronavirus is a new GEN series where we are interviewing people across the country who have had their lives upended or are experiencing the stress of the unknown.

On March 18, Mike Pence asked hospitals to postpone elective procedures to free up medical supplies for the fight against the novel coronavirus. Four days later, the state of Texas postponed all nonessential medical procedures, citing the White House directive. The Texas ban includes all elective abortions, including medication abortions, aka “the abortion pill.” (Ohio has attempted to postpone abortion services, and the governor of Mississippi won’t order a statewide stay-at-home order but is attempting to shut down the state’s only abortion clinic in the name of the coronavirus.)

Reproductive rights groups filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on March 25 in a bid to lift the Texas ban. On March 30, a judge granted a restraining order to restore abortion access, but a March 31 ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will allow the state to implement its temporary ban on abortion.

Kathy Kleinfeld is the administrator of Houston Women’s Reproductive Services, a small clinic that specializes exclusively in medication abortions. Last week, she had to personally tell more than 40 patients, many of whom had already completed their ultrasounds and state-mandated waiting periods, that she would not be able to give them the pills to end their pregnancies. Kleinfeld said that when the order came down, “all the clinics in Texas were already adhering to CDC guidelines and recommendations for Covid-19.”

This article was reported in partnership with Type Investigations.

GGovernor Abbott made an announcement around 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 22, that all elective medical procedures were postponed due to Covid-19. He did not spell out what that meant in great detail. It wasn’t until about 24 hours later that his attorney general, Ken Paxton…

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Lindsay Beyerstein
GEN
Writer for

Lindsay Beyerstein is an award-winning investigative journalist, documentary filmmaker, and podcaster in Brooklyn, New York.