Ohio's attorney general has ordered two of the state's abortion providers to stop performing surgical abortion to conserve personal protective gear during the COVID-19 outbreak, the order applying to abortion facilities statewide. At the same time the nation's largest abortion business put forth the claim that abortion was "essential" and would continue at its Oho sites.
Attorney General Dave Yost sent letters on Friday to two facilities — Women's Med Center in Dayton and Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio's Cincinnati Surgery Center — ordering them to stop conducting any procedures, such as abortion, that require the use of personal protective equipment.
The letter, prompted by complaints about the two abortion centers, was a follow-up to an order issued by the Ohio Department of Health earlier in the week banning all "non-essential and elective surgeries" to preserve protective gear for medical personnel serving in the coronavirus pandemic.
"You and your facility are ordered to immediately stop performing non-essential and elective surgical abortions," the attorney general's letter reads. "Non-essential surgical abortions are those that can be delayed without undue risk to the current or future health of a patient."
It continues, "If you or your facility do not immediately stop performing non-essential or elective surgical abortions in compliance with the [health director's] order, the Department of Health will take all appropriate measures."
Ohio Attorney General spokesperson Bethany McCorkle said the order pertains to all of Ohio's abortion providers, according to CBS News, clarifying that if a facility uses personal protective equipment to perform the procedure, the order applies. It was not immediately known whether the abortion providers could still conduct chemical abortion, but they could stay open for other services.
The United States Department of Labor's classification of personal protective equipment includes, "gloves, safety glasses and shoes, earplugs or muffs, hard hats, respirators, or coveralls, vests and full body suits," the CBS report went on to say.
As of Sunday, March 22, there were 338,724 confirmed cases with 14,687 deaths worldwide due to coronavirus, or COVID-19, and 34,717 confirmed cases and 452 deaths in the United States.
With schools and businesses closed, events cancelled and travel restricted across the world, panic buying is occurring nationwide in the U.S., resulting in shortages of certain items, including medical supplies, with healthcare workers and first responders left to face work with a shortage of some basics, such as masks.
The Ohio Health Department's order, released Wednesday, did not specify whether abortion would be considered "non-essential" or "elective."
Planned Parenthood responded to the attorney general's Friday letter with the claim that it was in compliance with the Health Department's order and abortions would continue.
“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,’” said a joint statement from Iris E. Harvey and Kersha Deibel, respectively presidents and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio and Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region.
Tweet This: "Our doors remain open for this (abortion) care" - Ohio Planned Parenthood leaders
The latter runs an abortion facility in Cincinnati, the Columbus Dispatch reports.
Amid pro-abortion push-back against the attorney general's order, the AG's office said the order does not only apply to abortion providers, according to NPR, pointing out that an Ohio urology group got a letter as well instructing it to follow the Department of Health order.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted and the state's Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton announced Sunday that Ohio will be under a "Stay at Home" order affecting all "non-essential services" that will go into effect at midnight Monday, March 23, and will remain in effect until April 6 unless the order is rescinded or modified. The question persisted as to whether abortion facilities would comply.
Heartbeat International, headquartered in Columbus, OH, prepared Sunday to continue serving pregnancy help organizations (PHOs) worldwide with Columbus office staff planning to telecommute during the state's stay at home order. Many PHOs remain open with reduced hours and streamlined services, while observing social distancing and stepping up electronic communication and social media use.
Option Line, Heartbeat’s worldwide 24/7-365 bilingual pro-life contact center, has been seeing a much higher volume of contacts due to Covid-19. Option Line and Heartbeat's Abortion Pill Rescue Network will continue to assist clients around the clock.
Editor's note: Pregnancy Help News is a project of Heartbeat International.