Texas, Ohio governors order non-essential surgeries to be stopped, including most abortions

Henrietta Strickland
March 24, 2020

Reproductive rights groups, however, have condemned the order, branding it a brazen bid to "roll back access to abortion care".

Ohio, where lawmakers recently passed a "heartbeat" bill and introduced a bill that would create a felony called "abortion murder", sent out letters requiring clinics to halt all "nonessential and elective surgical abortions", citing federal guidelines meant to limit the amount of personal protective equipment (PPE) used by health care facilities. "Under that order, Planned Parenthood can still continue providing essential procedures, including surgical abortion, and our health centers continue to provide services that our patients depend on".

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Most abortion clinics in OH intend to defy an order by Ohio's attorney general to stop performing abortions and any other elective surgical procedures that require the use of crucial personal protective equipment, such as masks and gloves, that are now in short supply because of an influx of the coronavirus patients, CBS News reported.

Pro-choice advocates hit out at the state's attempt to include abortions in the nonessential surgery category. "Abortion is not essential". "Non-essential surgical abortions", it said, "are those that can be delayed without undue risk to the current or future health of a patient". "... If you or your facility do not immediately stop performing non-essential or elective surgical abortions in compliance with the attached order, the Department of Health will take all appropriate measures".

OH has been one of several states nationwide that have attempted to enact restrictions on access to abortion in the state. Abortion centers are not above the law.

Planned Parenthood has said that it is complying with the order by stopping "non-essential services", but, the organization told NPR that "under that order, Planned Parenthood can still continue providing essential procedures, including surgical abortion".

Several other states, including MA and Washington, have explicitly said that abortions are not part of the restrictions against non-essential procedures, and multiple medical groups have said that abortions are a part of "comprehensive health care" and should not be canceled, The Washington Post reported.

"As our country grapples with how to address this public health emergency, anti-choice politicians in OH are brazenly exploiting a global pandemic to roll back access to abortion care", said the president of NARAL, a nonprofit which opposes abortion restrictions, Ilyse Hogue, in a statement shared with Newsweek.

But NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio executive director Kellie Copeland said abortion is time-sensitive and can not be significantly delayed without profound consequences.

If abortion is health care, as the abortion industry claims, this is an opportunity for them to act like it and comply with the governor's order.

Preterm of Cleveland, another abortion provider, also refused to comply with the order to halt abortions during the coronavirus pandemic. Some hospitals in the United States have already reported re-using surgical masks amid shortages.

OH leaders, and in particular its governor, have been lauded over its aggressive steps to combat coronavirus, including schools and a host of businesses including bars, restaurants, nail salons, barbershops, and tattoo parlors.

Ohio Right to Life, an anti-abortion group that had sent a letter of complaint to Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio prior to Yost's order, applauded the Attorney General's decision.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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