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 (19 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 [11 favorites]

[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 [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 [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 [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 [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 [2 favorites]

because, apparently, sex is women are eeevilll.
posted by thedward at 9:34 AM on March 24 [3 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 [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 [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 [9 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 [5 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 [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 [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

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

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 [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

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

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 [1 favorite]

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