The states of Ohio and Texas have ordered health care providers to stop performing “nonessential” surgical abortions, citing federal guidelines seeking to conserve medical supplies amid the spreading coronavirus, unleashing a backlash from abortion-rights leaders who deplored the move as an “affront” to women facing harrowing decisions.
While emphasizing that abortion providers are subject to the Governor’s executive order issued on the weekend, Texas’s attorney general Ken Paxton (R) said:
“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.”
Paxton added that health care providers violating the directive could potentially be slapped with fines of up to $1,000 or face 180 days behind bars.
Paxton emphasised the order includes abortion, saying:
“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.”
On Sunday Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued an executive order in force until at least 21 April, ordering all health care facilities to freeze surgeries and procedures that are not “needed to save the life of a patient or correct a serious medical condition”.
The purpose of the move is reportedly aimed at freeing up hospital beds and personal protective equipment needed for health workers, amid the spreading coronavirus epidemic.
A similar directive, issued by Ohio’s attorney general Dave Yost last week, ordered two abortion providers in the state to cease “nonessential surgical abortions”.
Yost warned the providers they were in violation of a 17 March order issued by the state’s health department, to suspend all “nonessential medical procedures and elective surgeries”, reported CBS.
Thus, the state’s health policy in line with the coronavirus pandemic freezes all medical procedures unless a patient faces “serious adverse medical consequences or death, as determined by the patient’s physician.”
However, many clinics have gone on record as insisting abortions are an essential procedure, and they are already complying with the state order to halt “nonessential surgeries”.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology recently issued a joint statement referring to abortions as “an essential component of comprehensive health care.”
Abortion-rights leaders have deplored the recent measures as an “affront” to women facing harrowing decisions amid the pandemic.
The recent measures have been announced as the US has currently registers over 46,400 confirmed cases of the disease, with the death toll at over 590.
Countries around the globe have been rushing to impose travel bans, quarantines and lockdowns in an attempt to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and Covid-19, the disease it causes, with the World health Organization declaring the outbreak a pandemic on 11 March.
The outbreak was first reported by Chinese officials on 31 December in Wuhan, Hubei province.
Dozens of drugs are being tested around the world in a race to develop a treatment for the rapidly spreading illness.
Over 387,300 cases have been registered worldwide, with the current death toll surpassing 16,700.