By S.T. Patrick
As an attempt to free up medical personnel and bed space in Ohio’s medical facilities, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost ordered a temporary ban on all nonessential and elective medical procedures. Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio has refused to comply with the order, stating in a letter to the attorney general that they are interpreting the order to mean that they can “still continue providing essential procedures, including surgical abortion.”
In a joint statement, Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio and Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio argued that “Planned Parenthood’s top priority is ensuring that every person can continue accessing essential health care, including abortion. We know your healthcare can’t wait. Abortion is an essential, time-sensitive medical procedure.” Ohio has six surgical providers of abortion. Five, to date, have refused to stop providing abortions.
Yost’s office has threatened legal action if the abortion providers do not cease operation and if the Ohio Department of Health rules that they are in violation of the attorney general’s order.
Bethany McCorkle, a spokesperson from the office of the attorney general, said in an email to CBS News, “This is not about abortions. This is about nonessential surgeries using [Personal Protective Equipment] during this pandemic.”
The Ohio Department of Health has yet to rule on abortions as essential or nonessential, though state Health Director Amy Acton has stated, “We cannot allow the politics of things to get in the way of doing what we have to do in a state of emergency.”
Citing concerns about the availability of protective equipment and access to medical providers, the Trump administration had asked “every American and every American hospital and healthcare facility to postpone any elective medical procedures.” Not knowing what the apex of this virus will be, states have also feared that the need for hospital beds may exceed their availability.
The orders issued at the state level do not only affect abortions. The wide net of “nonessential surgeries” can include all procedures scheduled in advance. Non-emergency heart surgeries, cancer surgeries, back surgeries, knee surgeries, removing kidney stones, and weight loss surgeries would all fall under this umbrella.
Washington and Massachusetts have both ruled that abortions are essential services that would not be suspended due to Covid-19 orders. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has suspended nonessential surgeries but has not yet commented on the status of abortions.
Dan Tierney, a spokesman for Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, said the delineation between essential and nonessential is ongoing. “There’s still no discussion of an across-the-board declaration regarding certain procedures,” Tierney explained. “We’re investigating the allegations in the complaints, and it’s ongoing at the moment.”
It is not a surprise that Ohio has become the immediate battleground for abortion. In 2011 it was the first state to implement a “heartbeat” law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. States such as Iowa and Georgia followed with similar restrictions.
Ideologically, the abortion providers have put themselves in a predicament. If the Supreme Court is forced to rule—with Justice Brett Kavanaugh, there is a 5-4 conservative majority on the court—Roe v. Wade may be vulnerable, and the clinics will regret they ever refused to close.
S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent 10 years as an educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer News Show.” His email is [email protected] He is also an occasional contributor to TBR history magazine and the current managing editor of Deep Truth Journal (DTJ), a new conspiracy-focused publication available from the AFP Online Store.