Abortion Clinics Are Staying Open During The Coronavirus Outbreak.
March 23, 2020 10:54 PM   Subscribe

Planned Parenthood wants people to know that its doors are still open, even as the coronavirus epidemic sweeps the United States. In addition, despite the attempts by Texas, Ohio, and Louisiana to classify some abortions as 'nonessential' surgeries that must be delayed, clinics in Ohio and Louisiana remain open, and the announcement in Texas on Monday has activated abortion rights advocates and their lawyers, according to the New York Times.

From the National Abortion Federation:
Abortion is a safe, time-sensitive procedure and it is still being provided in outpatient clinics and hospitals throughout the United States and Canada during this COVID-19 outbreak. You can find a provider in your area here. You should contact the clinic directly to confirm their operating hours during this rapidly-evolving situation.

The NAF Hotline (1-800-772-9100) is open and operating during our normal hours: 7 am to 11 pm Eastern Monday to Friday and 9 am to 5pm Eastern Saturday and Sunday. Our Hotline Intake Counselors can answer questions about abortion and pregnancy options, help you find a quality provider, and help you with limited financial assistance if you are having trouble affording your care.
Previously: Women in the U.S. Can Now Get Safe Abortions by Mail
posted by katra (28 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
 
Don't like the framing here. PP does *a lot* more than just provide abortions. I am glad they are staying open, to continue to offer all the services they provide.

Disclaimer: sister-in-law works for PP.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 12:46 AM on March 24, 2020 [11 favorites]


Mod note: As a quick note: Let us affirm that Planned Parenthood provides a variety of sexual health care services, including information and education, STD info and testing, birth control options, reproductive rights advocacy, and emergency contraception, as well as abortion. This particular post is focused on abortion rights, so having now stated this, we can carry on discussion of the post topic. Thanks.
posted by taz (staff) at 1:20 AM on March 24, 2020 [28 favorites]


Unfortunately, that also means abortion protesters are still out (at least in places that haven't given shelter in place orders yet).

Lent is a big time of year for protesters, and somehow I doubt that they're exercising space and safety precautions.
posted by dinty_moore at 4:58 AM on March 24, 2020 [4 favorites]


At least it may be easier to disperse protesters now by coughing on them....
posted by mightshould at 5:12 AM on March 24, 2020 [4 favorites]


Alas, I am pretty sure the protesters are part of the group that think it's a liberal conspiracy.
posted by dinty_moore at 5:30 AM on March 24, 2020 [4 favorites]


Sadly, though Planned Parenthood provides many services besides abortion, the right wing opposes those other services as well, because, apparently, sex is eeevilll.

So, if it isn’t abortion, the right wing will find some other hill to let everyone die on.
posted by drivingmenuts at 9:19 AM on March 24, 2020 [2 favorites]


because, apparently, sex is women are eeevilll.
posted by thedward at 9:34 AM on March 24, 2020 [4 favorites]


Ohio and Texas Lawmakers Order ‘Non-Essential’ Abortions to Stop During Coronavirus Outbreak (People, Mar. 24, 2020)
Several other states, including Massachusetts and Washington, have explicitly said that abortions are not part of the restrictions against non-essential procedures, and multiple medical groups have said that abortions are a part of “comprehensive health care” and should not be canceled, The Washington Post reported.

The Ohio attorney general’s office sent letters directly to clinics in the state, including Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio in Cincinnati, Preterm in Cleveland and Women’s Med Center of Dayton, after receiving “a complaint” that they were still in operation. [...]

Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio (PPSWO) said that they would continue performing surgical abortions, as they are considered necessary.

“PPSWO immediately responded to Ohio Attorney General Yost’s letter, assuring him that PPSWO was complying with Director Acton’s order,” the organization said in a statement, according to WOSU Public Media. “Under that order, Planned Parenthood can still continue providing essential procedures, including surgical abortion, and our health centers continue to offer other health care services that our patients depend on. Our doors remain open for this care.”

[...] In a joint statement, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, along with six other organizations, said that abortions are not non-essential, and cannot be canceled or delayed.
posted by katra at 9:35 AM on March 24, 2020 [4 favorites]


(and trans services, and services not to just women.)
Thank god for the advocates doing good work right now. The texas announcement was the news that finally broke my spirit this week.
posted by gaybobbie at 9:47 AM on March 24, 2020 [5 favorites]


Just a quick note as someone who does volunteer work adjacent to Planned Parenthood SW Ohio, PPSWO is the only abortion provider left in Cincinnati, and serves a LOT of folks from areas of Appalachia who have difficulty accessing abortion in their region. PPSWO has been targeted since the Kasich administration by things like weirdly convoluted transfer agreements as lawmakers try to invent infinite ways to figure out how to close it down (which would make Cincinnati one of the largest metro areas without an abortion provider). Like many PP affiliates, ours serves populations that have nowhere else to go.
posted by mostly vowels at 10:07 AM on March 24, 2020 [10 favorites]


FUCKING OHIO I can't believe they are trying to enforce this as just public health. What is more time-sensitive and essential than ending an unwanted pregnancy? As an Ohio resident this has just been infuriating me for days.

It is the other shoe dropping, for me. I was watching Mike DeWine be less awful than expected for a republican governor, and cautiously approving of Amy Acton as a strong voice for public health, but this is the real face of Ohio politics, right here.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 10:24 AM on March 24, 2020 [6 favorites]


This is a timely and important issue, katra - thanks very much for calling attention to both the anti-care policies in some states and the great work Planned Parenthood is doing to keep going in the face of those assaults.
posted by kristi at 1:06 PM on March 24, 2020 [3 favorites]


I'm willing to hear both sides here, as long as they ban nonessential childbirth first.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:46 PM on March 24, 2020 [3 favorites]


Abortion-rights groups sue Texas over abortion ban amid coronavirus outbreak (CBS News, Mar. 25, 2020)

Texas Abortion Providers File Lawsuit to Ensure Safe Access to Abortion Procedures During Coronavirus Pandemic (Ms. Magazine, Mar. 26, 2020)
The plaintiff abortion providers are represented by attorneys from Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the Lawyering Project and the Law Offices of Patrick J. O’Connell PLLC.

A copy of the complaint filed today can be found here.
posted by katra at 1:40 PM on March 29, 2020


On a similar note in the UK:
State control over women's bodies is an unforeseen outcome of the Covid-19 crisis
Next came the weirdest about-turn from the government – which, at the time of writing, still hadn’t been explained. Last Monday the health secretary, Matt Hancock, signed off on a decision to allow early medical abortions at home during the pandemic. Simply put, we would follow what Australia and the US already do and allow women to speak to a doctor over the phone, and take two pills at home to perform the procedure. This would ease pressure on clinics and GPs – and remove the need for anyone to see a practitioner in person.

The vast majority of abortions in this country happen in the first few weeks, and so this is the way most procedures take place. The move was welcomed by both the RCM and the RCOG.

And yet, a few hours later, it was rescinded with the most meagre of explanations – that the advice, carefully worded and sent out was “published in error”, leaving doctors utterly puzzled. Neither Hancock – admittedly a man with much on his mind – or the Department of Health have commented further.
You'd think that at this time, particularly, the UK government would be free to act without regard to conservative pressure groups: there's a crisis; Johnson's government is remarkably popular right now; it enjoys a stonking great majority in Parliament; there's a long time until the next election; the pressure groups can't even get together to hold a protest. But this looks very much like a politically-motivated backdown.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:52 PM on March 29, 2020


Judges Strike Down Bans On Abortions During The Coronavirus Outbreak In Texas And Ohio (Buzzfeed, Mar. 30, 2020)
Two federal judges issued orders on requiring Texas and Ohio to allow abortion clinics to stay open and keep providing services in the states Monday. [...] Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union quickly filed emergency lawsuits, arguing that the orders were unconstitutional and demanding they be halted and clinics in the state be allowed to continue their work. Judges granted their request for temporary restraining orders to keep clinics open in both states Monday evening.

In his decision, US District Court for the Western District of Texas Judge Lee Yeakel said that Texas’s order would cause “irreparable harm” to abortion clinics and their patients, and that this harm “outweighs” Texas’s reason for the order.

[...] The decisions in Texas and Ohio come hours after Planned Parenthood, alongside a coalition of abortion rights organizations, filed a series of lawsuits in three other states as well, seeking similar judgements preventing Oklahoma, Iowa, and Alabama from temporarily banning abortion as part of their plans to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic.
posted by katra at 6:53 PM on March 30, 2020 [2 favorites]


Federal Judges Temporarily Block States From Banning Abortions During Coronavirus (TIME, Mar. 30, 2020)
Federal judges on Monday temporarily blocked efforts in Texas and Alabama to ban abortions during the coronavirus pandemic, handing Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers a victory as clinics across the U.S. filed lawsuits to stop states from trying to shutter them during the outbreak.

[...] Monday night, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson issued a temporary restraining order against Alabama’s order, saying the ruling with be in effect through April 13 while he considers additional arguments. Thompson wrote the state’s concerns about conserving medical equipment during the pandemic, does not “outweigh the serious, and, in some cases, permanent, harms imposed by the denial of an individual’s right to privacy.”
posted by katra at 10:16 AM on March 31, 2020


Texas’s Ban On Abortions During The Coronavirus Outbreak Can Go Back Into Effect Following An Appeals Court Ruling (Buzzfeed, March 31, 2020)
Texas will be allowed to instate a temporary ban on abortion in nearly all cases during the coronavirus outbreak, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday. The court overturned a decision released just hours before, on Monday afternoon, when a federal judge put a hold on the ban, saying it would cause “irreparable harm” to patients in the state.

[...] The Fifth Circuit ordered a temporary stay, which will allow Texas to temporarily prohibit abortions while the case is argued. The court gave plaintiffs until April 1 to file a response to their decision.

Judge James Dennis wrote a short dissent, noting that a federal judge had “irreparable harm would flow” from allowing Texas’s order to prohibit abortions and that he believed Yeakel’s decision should stand. “I write separately to make clear that, per the Executive order, 'any procedure that, if performed in accordance with the commonly accepted standard of clinical practice, would not deplete the hospital capacity or the personal protective equipment needed to cope with the COVID-19 disaster’ is exempt,” Dennis added in his dissent, suggesting that he believed some abortion procedures would fall under this exemption and therefore should not be banned, even if Texas’s order were allowed to go into effect.

[...] In addition to Texas, two federal judges granted the groups temporary restraining orders in Ohio and Alabama Monday. As of Tuesday afternoon, the decisions in Ohio and Alabama stood, but the cases in Iowa and Oklahoma have not yet been ruled on.
posted by katra at 6:52 PM on April 1, 2020


What it takes to get an abortion during the coronavirus pandemic (Vox, Apr. 1, 2020)
[In 2016,] “It was really just hard not being able to access care when I needed it,” she said.

But now, as a patient counselor at a clinic, she says she also sees the ways that advocacy groups are trying to help people get abortions during this time, whether it’s sending money to abortion funds in states affected by bans or booking hotel rooms for people who need to travel to get the procedure.

“Even though access looks really hard right now,” she said, “there are so many people fighting right now to make sure that access remains a reality.”
posted by katra at 10:28 AM on April 2, 2020 [2 favorites]


SCOTUS won’t face abortion case after lower court eases Texas’ pandemic ban (Politico, Apr. 14, 2020)
Abortion rights groups called off their challenge to the Texas ban after the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in a Monday night ruling said medication abortions could continue under the state’s pandemic emergency order.

[...] Two federal appellate courts have upheld blocks on similar state bans in Ohio and Oklahoma, though lower courts are still weighing the merits of those restrictions. Another ban in Alabama has been halted by a federal judge, and abortion rights advocates this week filed new challenges in Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee. Other bans have been enacted but not yet challenged in Alaska, Indiana and Kentucky.

A federal judge in Texas in recent weeks had ruled against and narrowed the state’s ban in two separate decisions, but both were swiftly overturned by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals before abortion rights groups this past weekend asked the Supreme Court to intervene.

But the 5th Circuit on Monday said the state hadn't made a strong enough case for banning medication abortion, which technically is not a "procedure.” [...] Surgical abortions remain banned in the state for now for most patients, except for those who would be unable to get an abortion under the state’s 22-week ban if further delayed.

The groups challenging the state’s emergency ban, including Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights, will continue to seek its full reversal at the district court level. The groups say the measure creates a public health risk for hundreds of women who have had to travel out of state over the last three weeks to obtain an abortion amid the pandemic.

Texas' emergency order is set to expire next week, but the state could decide to extend it.
posted by katra at 11:26 PM on April 17, 2020


Alabama cannot block abortions during coronavirus crisis, judge rules (Guardian, Apr. 13, 2020)
The US ruling came as the World Health Organization was being urged to declare abortion an essential health service during the pandemic. It earlier issued guidance notes advising all governments that women’s right to sexual and reproductive healthcare “should be respected irrespective of Covid-19 status, including access to contraception and safe abortion”.

There have been growing calls for governments to protect abortion services during the crisis. Last week, 100 NGOs issued a joint statement imploring European countries to find new ways to help women access services during lockdown, such as through online consultations and, as introduced in the UK last month, by allowing them to take abortion pills at home.

Marie Stopes International has warned that up to 9.5 million women and girls would not access family planning services this year because of the pandemic, which could result in as many as 3m unintended pregnancies and 2.7m unsafe abortions.
posted by katra at 11:36 PM on April 17, 2020


Judge overturns ban on abortions in Tennessee during Covid-19 crisis (Guardian)
US district judge, Bernard Friedman, said the defendants didn’t show that any appreciable amount of personal protective equipment (PPE) would be saved if the ban was applied to abortions.

[...] Several other states are grappling with similar issues. Judges in the past week have ruled to allow abortions to continue in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Ohio and Texas.
posted by katra at 5:28 PM on April 18, 2020


katra, thank you for continuing to update with links, it is alternately horrifying/heartening to see how this is working its way through courts the last few weeks.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 10:22 AM on April 21, 2020 [1 favorite]


And it is heartening to know there is a network of services across the country, including NAF and Planned Parenthood, that have mobilized and are available to help people access reproductive and sexual health care, despite the horrifying attempts to restrict access.

In addition, as noted in this recent article from the Washington Post, safety concerns are increasingly being addressed for all patients: Patients with heart attacks, strokes and even appendicitis vanish from hospitals (Apr. 19, 2020 / MSN reprint), and it seems relevant to add here:
Hospitals are beginning to reach out to the public through social media and public service announcements to ease fears about hospital safety.

“We’ve changed what we do,” to keep patients safe from the virus, [Ralph Sacco, chairman of neurology and former president of the American Academy of Neurology] said. “But we’re still able to care for people.”

The possibility that patients may be suffering — and even dying — at home rather than going to a hospital led the American College of Cardiology to launch a “Cardiosmart” campaign last week, attempting to reassure a wary population and encourage those with symptoms to call 911 for urgent care and to continue routine appointments, through telemedicine when practical: “Hospitals have safety measures to protect you from infection,” it reads.

[...] for now, [Harlan Krumholz, a cardiologist and health care researcher at Yale University and Yale New Haven Hospital] said, the key is to make sure people with symptoms overcome their fears and get prompt treatment that may save their lives or avoid long-term complications.

“Don’t delay,” he said.
posted by katra at 11:04 AM on April 21, 2020


Federal Appeals Court Okays Arkansas' Abortion Ban During Coronavirus Pandemic (NPR)
In the opinion, a federal judge writes that while medication abortions using pills may continue under the state's policy, surgical abortions that are not immediately medically necessary are prohibited.

[...] In the aftermath of the ban in Texas, Planned Parenthood has reported a more than seven-fold increase in patients traveling to clinics in nearby states for abortions.
posted by katra at 3:18 PM on April 22, 2020


In these states, pandemic crisis response includes attempts to stop abortion (WaPo, Apr. 23, 2020)
In Kentucky, Republicans led by the newly elected attorney general have sought to include abortion clinics in the prohibition on elective medical procedures, but the Democratic governor and the state Health Department have not done so.

Mississippi, Indiana and Utah have discussed or issued restrictions but clinics remain open so far.

[...] The effective ban in Texas was lifted Wednesday amid a push to re-open businesses [...] The federal appeals court decision in Texas is based on the governor’s order limiting non-essential medical procedures. That order was set to expire Tuesday, the day after the federal court ruling. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) replaced it with new rules that allow procedures as long as sufficient capacity is left to deal with coronavirus cases. Abortion clinics have remained open saying they fit under the new rules.
posted by katra at 3:05 PM on April 23, 2020


Abortion clinics expanding virtual options during pandemic (Politico)
One nonprofit that's studying whether abortion medication can be safely mailed to patients, cutting down on in-person visits, said it's now seeing more patients. Gynuity Health Projects, which operates its FDA-reviewed trial in 13 states, reported a 30 percent increase in virtual visits at some clinics between February and March as shelter-in-place orders took hold. Patients can receive the abortion drugs without ever having to leave their homes after a video consultation with providers participating in the trial.

[...] Planned Parenthood said it doesn’t yet have the data to know whether more of its patients are receiving telemedicine abortions, but it’s taking steps to make the process easier. While patients must video chat with abortion providers and pick up the medication from inside a clinic, its affiliates are piloting a new AI-driven chatbot that texts patients after they’ve taken the medication to cut down on non-urgent visits.

[...] Carafem, a clinic with locations in Georgia, Tennessee, Illinois and the Washington, D.C., area, plans to sign up more of its providers for the Gynuity trial to test home delivery of abortion medication, said Chief Operations Officer Melissa Grant. The Gynuity trial has drawn many patients to Carafem from Alabama, where laws are more restrictive. “As long as you have technology available, we have connection and we have enough medical providers, it would be feasible to potentially serve significantly more clients,” Grant said.
posted by katra at 6:36 PM on April 23, 2020


Coronavirus in Ohio: Federal judge says some surgical abortions are essential (Cincinatti Enquirer / The Columbus Dispatch)
A federal judge in Cincinnati has again ruled restrictions on elective surgeries in Ohio during the coronavirus pandemic do not apply to some surgical abortions. U.S. District Court Judge Michael Barrett issued a preliminary injunction Thursday allowing surgical abortions to be performed if the provider determines on a case-by-case basis that delaying the abortion would push the patient past the point of “viability” under Ohio law.

In those cases, Barrett wrote, the “procedure is deemed legally essential to preserve a woman’s right to constitutionally protected access to abortions.” Barrett was nominated by President George W. Bush, a Republican. [...] In a brief appealing Barrett’s earlier temporary order, attorneys for the state wrote physicians must provide a medication abortion instead of a surgical procedure unless delaying the abortion would push the patient past viability or if the mother’s health or life were in danger.

Barrett agreed: “A logical reading of the Director’s Order and her department’s checklist would indicate that a procedure is essential if a postponement results in irreversible conditions and individual physicians makes those determinations, on case-by-case bases, based on their medical training and judgment.”
See also: https://www.abortionislegalinohio.com/ for clinic locations and information about funding assistance.
posted by katra at 8:05 PM on April 23, 2020


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