Is Abortion an 'Essential' Service During COVID-19 Lockdowns?
Is abortion an essential medical procedure during the pandemic?
by Causes | 4.27.20
What’s the story?
- Healthcare providers from hospitals to family practice physicians are facing financial difficulties during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as stay-at-home orders have limited their ability to generate revenue from non-emergency appointments & operations.
- Stay-at-home orders have sought to ban medical operations that aren’t necessary to preserve a patient’s life or long-term health, which in several cases meant abortions were considered prohibited procedures.
- These efforts have prompted legal challenges by abortion providers and pro-choice advocacy organizations seeking to restore or preserve abortion access.
What states have tried to restrict abortions? What’s the status of the restrictions?
- Alabama: A federal appeals court blocked the state’s restriction on abortion services as part of the COIVD-19 emergency order after a district court granted an initial injunction.
- Alaska: The state’s policy requires cancellation of postponement of non-emergency procedures, including abortion, until June 15.
- Arkansas: A federal appeals court on April 21st allowed the state to require providers to stop performing abortions until they can be safely postponed unless it’s necessary to protect the life or health of the mother.
- Indiana: Abortion clinics are required to postpone or cancel all non-urgent procedures unless the healthcare provider determines it would cause harm to the patient.
- Iowa: Initially, the state sought to restrict abortions as an elective medical procedure under its COVID-19 policy. However, abortion rights advocates and the state reached an agreement to allow services to continue prior to a scheduled court hearing.
- Louisiana: While the state hasn’t explicitly restricted any health procedures in its COVID-19 mitigation, the attorney general has implied it should be considered “non-essential” and abortion rights groups have sued to ensure it remains available.
- Mississippi: The state’s order banning elective medical procedures, including abortions, expires on April 27th.
- Ohio: Portions of the stay-at-home order restricting abortions were blocked by a federal district court and upheld by a federal appeals court, although abortion providers must delay procedures when safely possible.
- Oklahoma: The state’s initial stay-at-home order restricted abortion services, but federal courts blocked the policy and the state’s appeal.
- Texas: The state initially imposed a temporary ban on abortion services as part of the stay-at-home order, but on April 22nd it removed those restrictions as part of the updated order.
- Tennessee: Abortions were initially suspended as part of the stay-at-home order. A federal district court granted abortion providers an injunction on April 17th, allowing them to resume performing abortions. The state unsuccessfully appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
- West Virginia: The state’s emergency order prohibits all elective medical procedures and has no end date, and a lawsuit has been filed to allow abortion providers to continue offering services.
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: iStock.com / rusak)
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