The Ohio attorney general has ordered two abortion clinics to stop performing elective abortions during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying masks and other personal protective equipment must be preserved to fight the coronavirus.
The letter from Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s office was sent to Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio and Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region and says the Ohio Department of Health “has received a complaint that your facility has been performing or continues to offer to perform surgical abortions,” which “necessarily involve the use of PPE.”
Hospitals throughout the country are needing extra masks, gowns and other personal protective equipment to protect nurses and doctors from the virus.
Cleveland.com posted a copy of the letter, which was signed by Deputy Attorney General Jonathan Fulkerson. Fulkerson’s letter referenced an order to medical centers from the Ohio Department of Health director that all elective procedures must be postponed.
“On behalf of the Department, you and your facility are ordered to immediately stop performing non-essential and elective surgical abortions,” the letter, dated March 20, says. “Non-essential surgical abortions are those that can be delayed without undue risk to the current or future health of a patient. … 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.”
The letter permits four exceptions, according to Cleveland.com: a threat to the patient’s life; a threat of permanent dysfunction of the patient’s organs, a risk of progression or metastasis of a disease; and a time-sensitive risk of rapidly worsening symptoms.
“This is an unprecedented time in the state’s history and everyone must do their part to help stop the spread of this disease,” the letter says.
Michael Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, urged the state to “hold Planned Parenthood accountable.”
“As countless other clinics across the state comply with this health order and prioritize the lives of their fellow Ohioans, Planned Parenthood continues to put profit and abortion above the safety of our society’s most vulnerable members – children and the elderly,” Gonidakis wrote on his organization’s website.
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio responded to the letter from the attorney general’s office, saying the clinics are in compliance with the Department of Health’s regulations and that abortions will continue, Cleveland.com reported.
“Under [the Department of Health’s] 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,” Planned Parenthood said in a statement. “Our doors remain open for this care.”
Photo courtesy: Arseny Togulev/Unsplash
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.