The attorney general's office in Ohio has ordered all of the state's abortion providers stop offering the procedure, saying it falls under the category of "non-essential and elective surgery."
There are six clinics in Ohio that provide surgical abortions, and five of them have pushed back, saying that their services are not only essential, but also time-sensitive.
Because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, there are shortages of personal protective equipment, like masks. The Ohio Department of Health on Wednesday said "non-essential and elective surgeries" would temporarily be suspended so health care workers dealing with COVID-19 cases would have proper gear. There was no mention of abortion, CBS News reports, but the Ohio attorney general's office mailed out letters to clinics saying they had to "immediately stop performing non-essential and elective surgical abortions."
In a statement to CBS News, Iris Harvey of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio and Kersha Deibel of Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region said their "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."
Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region's lawyer said the clinic is in compliance with the order, and Harvey and Deibel told CBS News they will still "continue providing essential procedures, including surgical abortion." The attorney general's office said if it is determined that the clinics violated the order, there will be legal ramifications.
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