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Tennessee: Allowing abortions would undermine virus efforts

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Attorney General's Office is defending an order that restricts abortions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In a federal court filing Wednesday, attorneys for the state argue that Gov. Bill Lee’s order preserves personal protective equipment for emergency needs and prevents the community spread of COVID-19.

They also argue the order is within the governor’s authority to protect the health and welfare of citizens. And they say excluding surgical abortions from the ban on nonemergency medical procedures would undermine the state's efforts.

Attorneys for several Tennessee abortion clinics want an emergency order allowing them to continue performing abortions during the pandemic. Their lawyers argue in a motion filed Monday night that Lee's order blocking nonemergency health care procedures should not apply to abortions.

They say it imposes “extreme burdens” by potentially forcing women to travel out of state during a pandemic or wait weeks for an abortion, increasing their medical risk. Continuing pregnancies also increases burdens on the health care system, going against order's stated purpose.

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