As the coronavirus epidemic spreads across the United States and doubts arise about the ability of the hospital system to care for patients, should abortion be considered a necessary and urgent intervention? The issue divided the United States this week, as pointed out Politico.
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Washington, New York and New Jersey have already announced that it will prioritize abortion, the American media said. The governors of Texas, Ohio and Mississippi have taken the opposite decision, ordering the postponement of all non-emergency operations, including abortions ” not necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother “In order to counter the” shortage of hospital equipment »And the lack of beds available to treat Covid-19 patients.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has taken the most restrictive measures, threatening fines of a thousand dollars or 180 days in prison for doctors who continue to perform abortions. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced that the purpose of the decision was ” deterrent ” for ” encourage people to stay at home “
Following complaints from anti-abortion associations, he sent three letters to abortion clinics ordering them to comply with his decision, reports the New york times. With regard to Mississippi, Governor Tate Reeves told Politico measures would be taken against the only state abortion clinic if it remained open, without giving further details.
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These decisions received the support of several anti-abortion groups, who themselves pushed for a closure of the clinics, accusing them of monopolizing the resources necessary for the nursing staff. On Tuesday March 24, several group leaders wrote to the Minister of Health, Alex Azar, pleading for the postponement, on a national scale, of abortions. In a letter made public, they denounce “The abortion industry which worsens one crisis with another “By continuing to perform surgical procedures” not essential “
“A health crisis added to the health crisis”
These decisions were immediately decried in associations defending the right to abortion. Clinics in Texas and Ohio have already announced that they will remain open. Amy Hagstrom Miller, president of the Whole Woman’s Health association managing several clinics in Texas, recalled that “ patients could not wait for the pandemic to pass before receiving necessary care ”
The Association of American Gynecologists and Obstetricians released a press release on March 18 with several women’s rights groups, stating that abortion is ” an essential health service And stressing the time constraint and the urgency of these interventions.
Several pro-abortion clinics and groups joined forces on Wednesday to sue Greg Abbott, accusing him of using the health crisis for political gain, reported the Texas tribune. ” Instead of trying to resolve the crisis, Abbott uses his time and resources to score points with his political supporters, by curbing an already difficult right of access for some “Said Alexis McGill Johnson, president of family planning, reports The hill, another Texan newspaper.
This debate takes place in a particular context in the United States. If the Supreme Court recognized in 1973 the right to abort, it could, in 2020, review this position. In addition, it authorizes each State to legislate to regulate the practice. An operation that leads to large disparities in the territory. For example, Texas and Ohio have passed a wave of laws in recent years that severely restrict access to abortion on their territory. Almost half of the abortion clinics closed in Texas from 2012 to 2016, recalls Politico.