Abortions Are An Essential Service, Even During COVID-19 Pandemic
Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Abortion clinics in Ohio have been ordered to cease nonessential, elective abortion operations, The Hill reports. This has spurred a debate between pro-choice and pro-life advocates on whether abortion is an essential procedure.

Ohio is the first state to make this decision, and the worry over others following suit is legitimate, with Texas running closely behind. Texas attorney general Ken Paxton stated that abortions shouldn’t be performed unless the mother is in danger, the Texas Tribune reports. Providers who violate the executive order risk being fined by $1,000 and may face up to 180 days in jail.

Anti-abortion groups across the country celebrate the move, claiming that elective surgeries are a threat to public health.

While it’s unclear what constitutes “dangerous,” these conversations are slippery slopes that often highlight the most righteous and violent reasons that birthing people seek abortions. And these, too often, sensationalized narratives take away from the reality that accessing a safe and secure abortion is a human right, regardless of the “why.”

When we take into account that lawmakers and government officials like Paxton have a history of attempting to restrict abortion access, their objectivity and vested interest in ensuring that abortions never be considered essential health care services are revealed.

Eleven states in the U.S. require that people seeking abortions first be given an ultrasound. Nine of those states require that they be offered an opportunity to view the ultrasound image before the procedure begins, says Guttmacher Institute.  According to the AMA Journal of Ethics, mandatory pre-abortion ultrasounds have been known to put patients in distress and interfere with their decision to abort their pregnancies.

Delaying and/ or outright denying access to an abortion is unconscionable and any government official who pretends to be objective in these matters, while remaining fully committed to continuing their anti-choice agendas, is a liar. COVID-19 may have an impact on clinics’ ability to run, but the answer isn’t to shut down abortion services, it’s to figure out a way to offer what people need during this crisis and to do so without extending unwanted pregnancies.

ATLANTA, GA – MAY 21: Georgia State Rep. Erica Thomas speaks during a protest against recently passed abortion ban bills at the Georgia State Capitol building, on May 21, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Georgia “heartbeat” bill would ban abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected. The Alabama abortion law, signed by Gov. Kay Ivey last week, includes no exceptions for cases of rape and incest, outlawing all abortions except when necessary to prevent serious health problems for the woman. Though women are exempt from criminal and civil liability, the new law punishes doctors for performing an abortion, making the procedure a Class A felony punishable by up to 99 years in prison. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)

As the U.S. government continues to make regular attempts to cut reproductive health care—and these cuts drastically upend the lives of those searching for the services they deserve—it is vital that we continue to advocate for birthing people to be treated with dignity and respect,

Access to an abortion is a human right. Taking away that right is callous and unethical. 

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