Ohio Clinics Ordered to Stop ‘Non-Essential’ Abortions During Coronavirus Outbreak
Ohio clinics have been ordered to stop performing “non-essential” abortions during the new coronavirus outbreak — against the recommendations of health care professionals.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced the decision on Friday, saying that it fell under the Ohio governor’s public health order to cancel any “non-essential elective surgeries or procedures” that require personal protective equipment like masks and gloves.
Several other states, including Massachusetts 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.
The Ohio attorney general’s office sent letters directly to clinics in the state, including Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio in Cincinnati, Preterm in Cleveland and Women’s Med Center of Dayton, after receiving “a complaint” that they were still in operation.
“On behalf of the Department, you and your facility are ordered to immediately stop performing non-essential and elective surgical abortions. Non-essential surgical abortions are those that can be delayed without undue risk to the current or future health of a patient,” the order read. “…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.”
Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio (PPSWO) said that they would continue performing surgical abortions, as they are considered necessary.
“PPSWO immediately responded to Ohio Attorney General Yost’s letter, assuring him that PPSWO was complying with Director Acton’s order,” the organization said in a statement, according to WOSU Public Media. “Under that order, Planned Parenthood can still continue providing essential procedures, including surgical abortion, and our health centers continue to offer other health care services that our patients depend on. Our doors remain open for this care.”
And Kellie Copeland, executive director of the advocacy organization NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, criticized Yost’s letter.
“People should not push ideological agendas that interfere with the doctor-patient relationship. Period,” Copeland, told the Post. “But especially not right now, not during a pandemic.”
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.
Ohio state democrats said that Yost, a republican, was pushing a political agenda during a global pandemic.
“It is inexcusable that our state’s attorney would play politics with a global pandemic,” said state Sen. Nicki Antonio in a statement, according to WOSU Public Media.
In a joint statement, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, along with six other organizations, said that abortions are not non-essential, and cannot be canceled or delayed.
“Abortion is an essential component of comprehensive health care. It is also a time-sensitive service for which a delay of several weeks, or in some cases days, may increase the risks or potentially make it completely inaccessible,” they said. “The consequences of being unable to obtain an abortion profoundly impact a person’s life, health, and well-being.”
Ohio currently has 351 confirmed cases of COVID-19, as of Monday.
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