OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As hospitals work to preserve personal protective equipment for nurses and doctors battling COVID-19, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has clarified that abortion should be considered an elective surgery and be postponed under his order.
On Tuesday, Gov. Kevin Stitt ordered that all non-essential businesses located in counties affected by COVID-19 to close.
Non-essential businesses are considered places with a ‘social gathering’ aspect, like bars, gyms, and massage parlors.
At the same time, Stitt issued a 14-day suspension of all elective surgeries, minor medical procedures and non-emergency dental procedures in order to protect the state’s supply of personal protective equipment for medical workers.
On Friday, Stitt clarified that any type of abortion services that are not considered a medical emergency or otherwise necessary to prevent serious health risks to the mother are included in the executive order.
“We must ensure that our health care professionals, first responders and medical facilities have all of the resources they need to combat COVID-19,” said Gov. Stitt. “I am committed to doing whatever necessary to protect those who are on the front lines fighting against this virus.”
The order postpones all elective surgeries and minor procedures until April 7.
NARAL Pro-Choice Ameria responded quickly to the order:
“The radical right has been working for decades to end the legal right to abortion—no matter the cost—and now they are using COVID-19 to achieve that goal, drawing crucial resources away from a national pandemic to move their own ideological agenda forward.
“As we face this national emergency, we must centralize sound science and medical experts in guiding decision making and not allow the individuals driven by ideology to craft policy to meet their beliefs over public welfare.
“The medical community is clear and unified: Abortion care is time-sensitive and essential healthcare. They should be allowed to continue their work based on medicine and not arbitrary policy. The health and well-being of all Americans are at risk. Allowing ideology to trump science in this moment imperils everyone and sets a terrifying precedent as we face this national crisis.”
The ACLU released the following statement by Nicole McAfee, Director of Policy and Advocacy
“Abortion is essential health care. A state-mandated delay of this time-sensitive service can increase the health risks and potentially make it completely inaccessible because of Oklahoma’s numerous statutory restrictions. The consequences of being unable to obtain an abortion profoundly impact a person’s life, health, and well-being.
We are in an unprecedented time of crisis and any government restrictions on liberty, including abortion care, must be medically justified and the least restrictive available to protect the public health. The Governor’s proposal to include abortion in restricted medical care is much more likely to push people into desperate situations and lead to otherwise unnecessary emergency health crises than it is to provide relief.
The government should not use this pandemic as an excuse to target abortion access, especially since doing so right now is counterproductive to evidence-based practices. Protecting reproductive health care is always essential to better public health outcomes in general, but it’s especially important at this moment that we guarantee access to constitutionally protected health care.”