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Ohio's AG ordered pause on abortion to save medical equipment — but most providers will keep doing them anyway

AG's order wants all resources mobilized toward COVID-19

Planned Parenthood Health Center in Akron, Ohio. (Mary F. Calvert For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Most abortion clinics in Ohio intend to defy an order by Ohio's attorney general to stop performing abortions and any other elective surgical procedures that require the use of crucial personal protective equipment, such as masks and gloves, that are now in short supply because of an influx of the coronavirus patients, CBS News reported.

What's the story? Ohio Attorney General David Yost sent letters to state abortion providers Friday telling them to temporarily stop performing elective abortions and other nonessential procedures, and defined what that meant.

"You and your facility are ordered to immediately stop performing non-essential and elective surgical abortions," Yost's letter said. "Non-essential surgical abortions are those that can be delayed without undue risk to the current or future health of a patient."

The response: Five out of the six abortion providers in the state have expressed intent to continue performing abortions, arguing that the procedures are essential.

"Planned Parenthood's top priority is ensuring that every person can continue accessing essential health care, including abortion. We know your health care can't wait," the heads of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio and Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio said in a statement to CBS News. "Abortion is an essential, time-sensitive medical procedure."

Not just about abortion: Bethany McCorkle, a spokesperson for Yost's office, said the order does not specifically target abortion, but it focuses on limiting any nonessential procedures so that all resources can be mobilized toward responding to COVID-19.

"This is not about abortions," McCorkle told CBS News on Sunday. "This is about nonessential surgeries using [personal protective equipment] during this pandemic."

Some states, such as Massachusetts and Washington, have classified abortion as an essential procedure and therefore exempt from any pause on elective procedures. Other states, like Texas, that have issued similar orders have not clarified how abortion is classified.

One last thing…
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