Texas, Ohio order clinics to restrict abortions to free hospital beds amid rising coronavirus cases
More than 46,000 people across the US have been infected with the novel coronavirus
Texas and Ohio have both banned most abortions amidst the coronavirus pandemic and have warned those who violate the order they could face a fine or even jail time.
In a statement released this past Monday, March 23, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton warned all licensed health care professionals and health care facilities, including abortion providers, that they have to adhere to Executive Order GA 09 issued by Gov. Greg Abbott.
The order mandates that these facilities postpone all surgeries and procedures "that are not immediately medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition of, or to preserve the life of, a patient who without immediate performance of the surgery or procedure would be at risk for serious adverse medical consequences or death, as determined by the patient’s physician."
It also mentioned abortion, in particular, but did allow for the procedure in cases where it was needed to preserve the life or health of the mother.
The prohibition applies throughout the state and to all surgeries and procedures, even routine dermatological, ophthalmological, and dental procedures. Explaining the reasoning for the drastic measures, Paxton explained in his statement that the Covid-19 pandemic had "increased demands" for hospital beds and created a shortage of personal protective equipment needed to protect healthcare professionals and stop transmission of the virus.
"Postponing surgeries and procedures that are not immediately medically necessary will ensure that hospital beds are available for those suffering from COVID-19 and that PPEs are available for health care professionals," Paxton said.
Failure to comply, the attorney general warned, would result in penalties of up to $1,000 or 180 days of jail time.
Texas has more than 500 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, and like the rest of the states across the country, is enforcing social distancing protocols in a bid to slow the outbreak.
Paxton urged for Texan health facilities to follow the executive order so the state could effectively combat the novel coronavirus and not become overwhelmed with cases.
"We must work together as Texans to stop the spread of COVID-19 and ensure that our health care professionals and facilities have all the resources they need to fight the virus at this time," he said.
"No one is exempt from the governor’s executive order on medically unnecessary surgeries and procedures, including abortion providers. Those who violate the governor’s order will be met with the full force of the law."
The executive order in Texas came one day after clinics in Ohio similarly received letters from Attorney General Dave Yost ordering them to stop all “non-essential” and elective surgical abortions.
"On behalf of the Department, you and your facility are ordered to immediately stop performing non-essential and elective surgical abortions," Yost wrote, according to WCMH. "Non-essential surgical abortions are those that can be delayed without undue risk to the current or future health of a patient."
The presidents and CEOs of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio and Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region confirmed they would comply with the order but that they would continue to provide "essential abortions."
"Under that order, Planned Parenthood can still continue providing essential procedures, including surgical abortion, and our health care centers continue to offer health care services that our patients depend," the clinics said. "Our doors remain open for this care."