Texas and Ohio have reignited a new fight over abortion rights after labeling the procedure “nonessential” and thus one that is required to be delayed as medical professionals work to grapple with the fallout of the novel coronavirus.
According to The New York Times, the two states argued that they were trying to help health care workers by preserving much-needed protective equipment, and as they prep for a potential flood of new patients (given the long incubation period of the virus).
However, activists are calling both states out, claiming that abortions should be classified as essential, pointing out that people could not wait out the pandemic that still has an uncertain future.
As a matter of fact, the American College Of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued a recommendation that abortion not be included in the list of procedures that could potentially be delayed, given the time-sensitive nature of the procedure.
“Abortion is an essential component of comprehensive health care. It is also a time-sensitive service for which a delay of several weeks, or in some cases days, may increase the risks or potentially make it completely inaccessible,” the society said in a joint statement with other reproductive and family planning groups. “The consequences of being unable to obtain an abortion profoundly impact a person’s life, health, and well-being.”
Still, in Texas, Attorney General Ken Paxon clarified that the postponement included “any type of abortion that is not medically necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother,” noting that violation could result in penalties of up to $1,000 or 180 days in jail.
Over the weekend in Ohio, the Attorney General’s office sent warning letters to abortion clinics in Dayton, Cincinnati and Cleveland ordering them to “immediately stop performing nonessential and elective surgical abortions.”
According to the report, the letters were prompted from complaints issued to the Ohio Department of Health, at least one of which came from anti-abortion group Ohio Right to Life.
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