Ohio, Texas Abortion Clinics Ordered To Halt Procedures During Coronavirus Pandemic

However, abortion providers and advocates have argued that abortions are very much essential.

Texas and Ohio officials have both ordered that the states’ abortion clinics halt procedures amid the spread of the novel strain of coronavirus—drawing backlash from physicians and abortion advocates.

Ohio attorney general Dave Yost (R) ordered several abortion providers in the state to halt procedures during the coronavirus pandemic, calling the providers “nonessential or elective.”

“If you or your facility do not immediately stop performing nonessential or elective surgical abortions in compliance with the [health director’s] order, the Department of Health will take all appropriate measures,” he said in a letter to several clinics on Saturday.

On Monday, the Texas attorney general's office also ordered all licensed health care professionals and all licensed health care facilities, including abortion providers, must postpone all surgeries and procedures “that are not immediately medically necessary.”

Yost’s letter references Ohio Health Director Amy Acton’s directive for the state to postpone dental, veterinary, and some elective surgeries. At the federal level, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have also recommended that medical facilities suspend nonessential and elective procedures to preserve medical equipment as the novel coronavirus outbreak has overburdened health care systems.

Abortion providers and advocates have argued that abortions are very much essential. 

“Abortion is an essential, time-sensitive medical procedure,” Ohio Planned Parenthood executives Iris E. Harvey and Kersha Deibel said in a statement on Saturday. The nonprofit cited recognition for the procedure from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Other health care associations, including those from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists, expressed similar sentiments in a joint statement on March 18 saying, “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,” the statement continued. “The consequences of being unable to obtain an abortion profoundly impact a person’s life, health, and well-being.”

In their statement, Planned Parenthood’s Harvey and Deibel also said they would continue to provide their normal services. 
“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,” they said.
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