Protecting the weakest: These states demand an end to surgical abortions during the COVID-19 pandemic
Analysis

Protecting the weakest: These states demand an end to surgical abortions during the COVID-19 pandemic

abortions, coronavirus

Some states have ordered a halt to abortions in conjunction with their efforts to protect other at-risk populations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals, cities, states, and nations have taken extraordinary measures to protect those who are most at-risk of falling ill with the coronavirus, including the elderly and the immunocompromised. People have sacrificed church services, liberty, finances, and non-essential surgeries, among other things, all in an effort to save every life possible. And yet, the abortion industry largely continues to take human lives, while states have issued orders to halt all non-essential and elective procedures. Abortion is, of course, not a medical procedure at all — it is the deliberate taking of innocent human life. It should never happen, let alone during a time when governments are pulling out all the stops to protect human lives.

Some states have rightly included abortion in their list of procedures that must be halted during this time.

Alabama

Alabama is among several states being sued by the ACLU in an effort to prohibit them from enforcing a ban on abortion under an order to halt elective surgery in the state. Alabama’s order, issued on March 19, 2020, states, “All elective dental and medical procedures shall be delayed, effective immediately.” A March 25, 2020 report published at AL.com suggested the Alabama Department of Public Health would allow the three clinics in the state to remain open amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but a response from the state’s Attorney General indicates they had plans to shut them down.

Attorney General Steve Marshall’s response to the ACLU lawsuit states that Alabama has joined an amicus brief in support of Texas, and another in support of Ohio, both of which face similar lawsuits filed by pro-abortion activists. “Today, the State of Alabama is facing litigation because the State refused to grant abortion clinics a blanket exemption from the restrictions imposed by the State Health Order issued on March 27,” said Attorney General Marshall. “As I stated last Friday, Section 7 of the Order applies to all healthcare facilities and providers, without exception…”

“Put simply, no provider or clinic is excused from compliance with this order. “ he wrote.

Attorney General Steve Marshall then pointed out that abortion facilities want special treatment, “Today, I have also joined amicus briefs to support the states of Texas and Ohio as they face legal challenges similar to the one being brought against Alabama. In Texas and Ohio, as in Alabama, abortion providers are demanding special treatment and believe that they are above the law when it comes to the emergency orders. “At a time when all Americans are making significant sacrifices to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, it is remarkable that one class of providers demands to be treated differently than all others. Abortion clinics want an exemption, yet they are by no means exempt from the known risks of spreading the virus in crowded waiting rooms, depleting scarce personal protective equipment that should be reserved for those treating the virus, and transferring patients with complications to already overburdened hospitals.”

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Alaska

According to a Live Action News report, “On April 7th, Alaskan Governor Mike Dunleavy released a COVID-19 update expanding on the medical procedures to be postponed in the state in an effort to save personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers dealing with the virus. Included in this mandate is the restriction of surgical abortions, among other nonessential surgeries. The update states, ‘Healthcare providers are to postpone surgical abortion procedures unless the life or physical health of the mother is endangered by continuation of the pregnancy during the period of postponement.'”

Iowa

According to a local media report, abortion in the state is banned under orders to halt non essential medical surgery. An aide to Gov. Kim Reynolds told KCCI8 that the proclamation Reynolds enacted “suspends all nonessential or elective surgeries and procedures until April 16th, that includes surgical abortion procedures.”

The news came after local radio host Simon Conway tweeted, “With immediate effect, surgical abortions are banned in Iowa following @IAGovernor ‘s proclamation yesterday. From her office: ‘Proclamation suspends all nonessential or elective surgeries and procedures until April 16th, that includes surgical abortion procedures.’ #coronavirus”

Kentucky

Live Action News is currently monitoring the status of Kentucky. According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, “Gov. Andy Beshear’s executive order appears to permit abortion, an outpatient procedure, by giving providers discretion on what services to cancel, though it halts most ‘non-urgent, in-person’ services. … [T]he order said the state will rely on the judgment of ‘licensed healthcare professionals’ in deciding whether a procedure is appropriate under the new restrictions. Beshear’s order designates the Cabinet for Health and Family Services as the agency in charge of overseeing the order.”

Beshear’s order does not specify whether it allows abortion but Owensboro Health Chief Medical Officer Francis DuFrayne told the Owensboro Times, “Elective surgery is a broad term that covers almost anything you can do, except emergency trauma…  We’re looking at each case carefully.”

In response, the Kentucky Family Foundation tweeted, “There’s a shortage of medical masks and equipment in Ky. hospitals due to COVID-19. Some good news for @GovAndyBeshear: There are some extra masks at EMW Surgical Center in Louisville, which is, for some reason, still performing elective abortions.”

On March 27, 2020, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron tweeted, “I’m calling on Kentucky abortion providers to follow the same laws as other medical professionals and stop performing elective procedures during #COVID19.” The statement posted online reads in part, “Today, I’m calling on CHFS Acting Secretary Eric Friedlander to certify, pursuant to KRS 15.241, that Kentucky’s abortion providers are violating his ban on elective medical procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic by continuing to perform abortions. Kentucky’s current ban on elective medical procedures exists to further the mandated policy of social distancing and to help conserve medical resources for use in fighting COVID-19…. Abortion providers should join the thousands of other medical professionals across the state in ceasing elective procedures, unless the life of the mother is at risk, to protect the health of their patients and slow the spread of the coronavirus.”

Louisiana

Governor John Bel Edwards (D) and the Department of Health issued an order on March 21, 2020, requiring all non-essential and elective surgeries be postponed until further notice. Any surgery that can be safely postponed for 30 days shall be, and there appears to be no exception for abortions. All three Louisiana abortion facilities have been closed, according to Louisiana Right to Life. There is an exception for emergency medical surgeries for pregnant women when the health of the woman or the preborn child is in serious jeopardy.

“Gov. Edwards and the Department of Health have put measures in place to aggressively stem the spread of COVID-19 and slow the unnecessary use of personal protection equipment that should be donated to hospitals. This new rule that applies across the board to all medical and surgical procedures is consistent with that life-saving goal,” Benjamin Clapper, Executive Director of Louisiana Right to Life told LifeNews.

The organization told LifeNews that as of Monday, the abortion facilities appeared to be closed. A Shreveport-area woman contacted the facilities and was told by an official at Hope Medical Group for Women abortion clinic that they were closed, but that they also intended to “fight the law.”

Maryland

Previously, Maryland’s executive order was unclear. A reporter had asked the governor of Maryland for clarification, tweeting, “I’ve asked for clarification on whether abortions are considered elective. The initial answer seemed to be that the governor’s office doesn’t make that call.” The initial consensus was that it did.

Image: MD abortion remains open amidst COVID19 (Image: Twitter)

MD abortion remains open amidst COVID19 (Image: Twitter)

The reporter later tweeted a request from legislative director Danna L Cox for the governor to include abortion facilities in the order. POLITICO reported, “On Monday, Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan appeared to suggest that he was labeling abortion clinics nonessential when he issued a statewide ‘stay-at-home’ order, responding to a reporter’s question about abortions by saying: ‘We included in our directive an order to limit all elective surgeries … because we need to free up beds for the things that are going to save people’s lives.'”

A report published by Life News indicates Maryland health authorities are not viewing abortion as “essential care” and applies to “all elective and non-urgent medical procedures,” writing, “Delegate Cox received a response back indicating that, yes, the order for stoppage applied to all licensed medical clinics — which would include businesses that kill babies in abortions.”

Cox stated on Twitter: “For immediate release: Governor Hogan has closed all elective abortion clinics under his Executive Order. We will be monitoring this with our constituents statewide to ensure the law is followed.”

Mississippi

A press conference conducted by Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves (R) on Tuesday, March 24, indicates that the state is halting abortions under an order demanding a halt on elective surgery. The Hill stated that the governor “vowed he would take action against his state’s sole remaining abortion clinic if it provides abortions during the coronavirus outbreak. Reeves said at a press conference that abortions should be included among elective medical procedures and nonessential medical visits, both of which were postponed by the Mississippi Department of Health as it braces for a flood of COVID-19 cases.”

Reeves noted, “We’ll take whatever action we need to to protect not only the lives of unborn children but also the lives of anyone who may contract this particular virus. [I] don’t know any specifics, so I’m not saying they are currently operating. I just simply don’t know. … We’ll take whatever necessary actions.” He further expounded, saying elective procedures are halted to “protect our [personal protective equipment], our masks … and other supplies for anyone who gets infected by this virus.”

Mississippi’s top health official indicated that the state would have to further examine the issue before any action is taken to restrict abortion access. “That’s something I was not familiar with,” Dr. Thomas Dobbs, Mississippi’s state health officer, said in reference to Reeves’s statement. “And before I would make any comments, I think we have to review the situation a bit more.”

Nebraska

On March 26, 2020, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts released an order which prohibits elective surgery. According to 3NewsNow, he clarified that the order also includes abortions. A tweet from an Omaha-World Herald reporter, confirmed and stated, “Elective abortions are among the elective surgeries that have been prohibited, for now, in Omaha and Lincoln areas, says @GovRicketts. It would be up to health care provider to decide if it’s elective or not, he said.”

Ohio

Live Action News has documented the ongoing refusal of abortion facilities — including Planned Parenthood — to close in the state. They are currently in violation of an order from the state Department of Health, as well as an order from Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s office to halt surgical abortions. The Daily Caller reports that now, the DOH is issuing cease and desist letters to abortion facilities in violation of these orders. Press secretary Melanie Amato told the DC, “This is now an enforcement issue.”

 

The AG’s original letter stated, “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.” On Monday, the paper reported, “According Yost’s office, the health department will investigate to determine if the clinics are performing non-essential surgeries or procedures. If they are, Acton can ask the Attorney General to take legal action against them.”

Amato, the health department spokeswoman, in a statement said, “the Ohio Department of Health has been made aware of allegations that some health care providers appear to have violated the order on performing non-elective procedures. When ODH is made aware of allegations that medical facilities are not being complied with ODH’s order, ODH is asking the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to issue cease and desist orders. These orders have started going out.”

One of the clinics, Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region, which operates the Cincinnati clinic, said it would remain open to provide essential services, including surgical abortions, in compliance with Acton’s order.

Image: Planned Parenthood defies Ohio order on elective procedures during COVID19 to continue abortion (Image: Twitter)

Planned Parenthood defies Ohio order on elective procedures during COVID19 to continue abortion (Image: Twitter)

Pro-life groups in the state provided evidence that abortion facilities were open despite the COVID-19 order.

 

Planned Parenthood issued a statement on Twitter, claiming to be in compliance with Ohio’s order, and deceptively calling abortion an “essential, time-sensitive medical procedure.” In response, Live Action president Lila Rose tweeted, “Planned Parenthood @PPFA has publicly announced they will DEFY Ohio’s order to close & instead will continue committing abortions. Their lies & bloodlust know no limit.”

Image: Planned Parenthood defies Ohio order on elective abortion procedures during COVID19 (Image: Lila Rose on Twitter)

Planned Parenthood defies Ohio order on elective abortion procedures during COVID19 (Image: Lila Rose on Twitter)

Oklahoma

According to SWOKNews.com, abortions in Oklahoma are included in the state’s ban on elective surgeries. The media outlet reported that on Friday, “Gov. Kevin Stitt… amended his executive order to specifically prohibit abortions unless necessary to prevent health risks to the mother. The ban would apply through April 7, although it could be extended.”

Tennessee

A report published by the Tennessee Globe Gazette stated that on Monday, Governor Bill Lee issued a “halt to non-emergency dental work and nonessential hospital and surgical outpatient procedures, but the order did not specifically mention abortion…The order defines a non-essential procedure as one “that is not necessary to address a medical emergency or to preserve the health and safety of a patient, as determined by a licensed medical provider.”

However, the Globe noted that a spokesperson for Gov. Lee indicated his office wanted abortion included and expressed “hope and expectation” that abortion would be halted.

Other outlets reported that the state’s AG stands ready to defend the order as written.

Texas

Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) issued his COVID-19 order on March 22, 2020, prohibiting procedures unless a patient faces “serious adverse medical consequences or death, as determined by the patient’s physician.” The governor, who is admittedly pro-life, confirmed to the Dallas NBC affiliate that the order “would cover abortion in most cases while the order is in place until April 21.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said the COVID-19 pandemic has created an increased demand for hospital beds and personal protective equipment and that postponing elective surgeries leaves some of those beds available for COVID-19 patients…. Paxton said Monday afternoon that anyone failing to comply with the governor’s executive order faces fines up to $1,000 or 180 days in jail.

“We must work together as Texans to stop the spread of COVID-19 and ensure that our health care professionals and facilities have all the resources they need to fight the virus at this time,” said Attorney General Paxton in an online statement. “No one is exempt from the governor’s executive order on medically unnecessary surgeries and procedures, including abortion providers. Those who violate the governor’s order will be met with the full force of the law.”

 

No word yet on whether abortion facilities in Texas will defy this order like they are in Ohio. CBS News reporter Kate Smith, who supports abortion, spoke to Whole Woman’s Health abortion chain president Amy Hagstrom Miller, who deceptively called abortion “essential healthcare, and… a time-sensitive procedure,” but did not indicate she would be willing to risk a fine or jail time to commit them.

Abortion profiteers seem to be using every opportunity to exploit the crisis for their own profitable gain. In response, pro-life leaders are encouraging governors across the nation to halt abortions and protect all lives now and after the pandemic passes. That includes Live Action’s founder and President Lila Rose, who recently released a statement that reads in part, “Abortion always targets and violently destroys an innocent human being. As nations all over the world unite to fight COVID-19 under the shared understanding that every human life is precious, it is unconscionable that our leaders would continue to allow the one industry that exists to kill and destroy human life to continue to operate.”

Editor’s Note: This article will be updated as further information becomes available.

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