Texas, Ohio order clinics to restrict most abortions amid coronavirus outbreak

Most abortions in Texas are being banned amid the coronavirus outbreak — and violators could now face jail or a fine, health officials said this week.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement Monday that the mandate applies to all elective surgeries and procedures, including any type of abortion that is “not medically necessary to preserve the life of health of the mother.”

The coronavirus pandemic has caused shortages of hospital beds and personal protective equipment needed to stop the spread of the virus throughout Texas.

By postponing non-medically necessary procedures, hospital beds and other medical equipment will be available for patients battling COVID-19, Paxton said.

“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,” Paxton said in a statement. “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.”

Failure to comply can result in penalties of up to $1,000 or 180 days in jail.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order barring most abortions in the state on Saturday, one day after clinics in Ohio received letters from Attorney General Dave Yost ordering them to stop all “non-essential” and elective surgical abortions.

“Non-essential surgical abortions are those that can be delayed without undue risk to the current or future health of a patient,” Yost wrote to clinics in Dayton and Cincinnati, WCMH reports.

Officials from Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio and Southwest Ohio, meanwhile, said the facilities would comply with the order but still provide “essential abortions,” the station reports.

“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 in a statement. “Our doors remain open for this care.”

A message seeking comment from Planned Parenthood’s national office was not immediately returned early Tuesday.

With Post wires

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