OH orders abortion clinics to stop "nonessential abortions" because of coronavirus

AP A NJ USA Abortion Clinic

Ohio Attorney General sends letters to 2 abortion clinics, telling them to stop all non-essential procedures

In a release on Monday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton warned that all licensed health care professionals and facilities, including abortion providers, must postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately medically necessary.

Greg Abbott issued a statewide order Sunday to curb the use of medical supplies hospitals will need as they prepare for escalating infections in the spreading of COVID-19.

Those penalties could include a $1,000 fine or 180 days in jail.

The order bars hospitals from performing surgeries unless the patient faces an immediate risk for "serious adverse medical consequences or death". "Those who violate the governor's order will be met with the full force of the law".

"On behalf of the Department, you and your facility are ordered to immediately stop performing non-essential and elective surgical abortions", each letter states, NBC affiliate WCMH of Columbus reported. Yost wrote that the procedures violate a March 17 order issued by the state health director.

"Abortion care is a time-sensitive medical situation that can not be significantly delayed without profound consequences", the advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio said.

Abortion-rights leaders nationwide decried the tactic, saying it was an affront to women grappling with hard decisions amid the disruptions of the pandemic.

In Ohio, clinics, abortion rights groups and some state lawmakers pushed back, saying abortions are both essential and time-sensitive.

The report continued that at least five of Ohio's six abortion providers have refused to comply with the order.

Cleveland-based Preterm, the busiest abortion clinic in OH, is not open on Mondays but said it was continuing to take appointments for later in the week.

Bethany McCorkle, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office, told CNN that "this is not an abortion issue".

In Texas, Planned Parenthood did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the order from Abbott, but it was hailed by anti-abortion activists.

In a joint statement, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists, the American Gynecological & Obstetrical Society, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the Society for Academic Specialists in General Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Society of Family Planning, and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine said they did not support COVID-19 prevention efforts "that cancel or delay abortion procedures". "This is not a time to play politics".

Yost's order stemmed from an OH policy prohibiting elective surgeries as the state attempts to preserve medical equipment.

The executive director of Georgia Right to Life, Zemmie Fleck, said she has not heard of any plans by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to curtail abortions because of the coronavirus. The Trump administration urged all health care facilities to "postpone any elective medical procedures".

"It is our contention that we are an essential service", Derzis said by phone from Alabama, where she lives.

Officials are ordering abortion to halt in the midst of the Chinese virus crisis, yet the killing continues.

Iris E. Harvey and Kersha Deibel, the respective heads of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio and Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region, said in a statement that "Planned Parenthood's top priority is ensuring that every person can continue accessing essential health care, including abortion".

Gov. Mike DeWine, also a Republican, signed a law previous year passed by the state's GOP-controlled legislature that prohibited abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat was detected - about six weeks into a pregnancy and just about two weeks after a missed menstrual cycle.

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