Anti-abortion groups seek halt to abortions during coronavirus pandemic

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More than 50 anti-abortion groups have sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar calling on public health officials to urge abortion providers to cease operations during the coronavirus outbreak.

In the letter on Tuesday, the anti-abortion groups said a halt in abortions would free up needed medical equipment for the coronavirus response. The coalition also asked public health officials to ensure that emergency response funds are not given to abortion providers and that tele-medicine abortion is not expanded during the outbreak.

The letter was signed by leaders from more than 50 anti-abortion groups, including Susan B. Anthony List, National Right to Life and Family Research Council, among others.

March 4, 202005:03

Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of Susan B. Anthony List, said Azar has been a strong supporter of President Trump’s anti-abortion policies.

“We urge abortion centers to put health and safety first…and free up desperately-needed medical resources for use in fighting the spread of coronavirus,” said Dannenfelser.

The letter comes just days after both Ohio and Texas ordered clinics to stop abortion procedures amid coronavirus concerns.

However, Planned Parenthood isn’t standing down. Acting president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America Alexis McGill Johnson said in a statement that anti-abortion activists are exploiting the pandemic to push their agenda.

Anti-abortion activists call out prayers, pleas to hold off having an abortion, and offer anti-abortion material to women entering the Women’s Health Organization clinic on March 25, 2020, in Jackson, Miss. The clinic is Mississippi’s only state licensed abortion facility.Rogelio V. Solis / AP

“A public health emergency is not the time to play politics. The safety and health of patients, our staff, and our communities must remain the highest priority as our country faces an unprecedented crisis,” Johnson said. “Delays or additional barriers to care can make it more difficult or even impossible for some patients to access safe, legal abortion.”

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other reproductive health groups, have also weighed in on abortion access during the pandemic. Last week, they issued a joint statement that said abortion is a time-sensitive, essential service and a delay in care can put an individual at risk.

“Medically unnecessary regulations that are barriers to patient care that many states have put in place over the past decade should be rescinded or relaxed, especially during this time,” said Dr. Ted Anderson, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “Forcing a patient to continue pregnancy can pose threats to the safety and health of the patient.”