Ohio Planned Parenthood Refuses to Follow Order that Halts Abortions During Coronavirus

A procedure room is seen during a tour and event at Whole Woman’s Health of San Antonio, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, in San Antonio. The Supreme Court will soon hear Whole Woman's Health’s challenge to HB2, Texas legislation that requires all abortion facilities to meet heightened requirements by becoming ambulatory …
AP Photo/Eric Gay

Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio is refusing to comply with an order by the state’s attorney general that bans nonessential and elective surgical procedures, such as abortions, during the coronavirus pandemic.

A lawyer for the abortion facility responded to a letter from the office of state Attorney General Dave Yost, asserting the order allows Planned Parenthood to “still continue providing essential procedures, including surgical abortion.”

CBS News reported a spokesperson for Yost’s office, however, said Ohio abortion providers must stop performing the procedure.

The report continued that at least five of Ohio’s six abortion providers have refused to comply with the order.

Iris E. Harvey and Kersha Deibel, the respective heads of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio and Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region, said:

Planned Parenthood’s top priority is ensuring that every person can continue accessing essential health care, including abortion. We know your health care can’t wait. Abortion is an essential, time-sensitive medical procedure.

The state wants to ensure all supplies of personal protective equipment are used for those medical personnel who are dealing with the spread of the infection caused by the coronavirus that originated in China.

In Ohio, Planned Parenthood runs Planned Parenthood Bedford Health Center, Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio in Cincinnati and Planned Parenthood East Health in Columbus.

Preterm of Cleveland, another abortion provider, also refused to comply with the order to halt abortions during the coronavirus pandemic. The facility said it would be having fewer appointments and enacting “stringent precautionary measures to keep our patients, staff, and their families safe and healthy,” CBS News reported.

Women’s Med Center of Dayton also refused to comply with the order to stop abortions, reported the Dayton Daily News.

“This is not about abortions,” Bethany McCorkle, a spokesperson for Yost, reportedly told CBS News on Sunday. “This is about nonessential surgeries using PPE [personal protective equipment] during this pandemic.”

The Daily News also reported Harvey and Deibel said Planned Parenthood “is taking steps to reduce the use of personal protective equipment and is complying with the state order because abortion is an essential, time-sensitive medical procedure,’” a statement that could bring into question whether the abortions the chain is performing are being conducted with less safety due to the reduction in “use of personal protective equipment.”

Mark Harrington, president of pro-life group Created Equal, said:

If abortion is health care, as the abortion industry claims, this is an opportunity for them to act like it and comply with the governor’s order. However, we have evidence they are defying the order and staying open. Remaining open risks public health and safety during this national crisis. Abortion centers are not above the law.

“Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry care more about abortion than they do stopping the spread of COVID-19,” he added. “Pregnancy is not a disease. Abortion is not health care. Abortion is not essential.”

On Friday, Yost’s office sent letters to Women’s Med Center in Dayton and Planned Parenthood of Cincinnati Surgery Center ordering them to “immediately stop performing non-essential and elective surgical abortions.”

“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,” the letters read.

The letters followed an order from Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Action Wednesday that directed “all non-essential or elective surgeries and procedures that utilized (personal protective equipment) should not be conducted,” reported the Columbus Dispatch.

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