Iowa Abortion Providers Sue Governor Over Coronavirus Order

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Abortion providers with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa on Monday sued Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds for suspending abortion procedures as part of her blanket order to halt all elective and non-emergency medical procedures.

Reynolds, an abortion opponent who has vowed to end abortion in Iowa, said Sunday the move was not based on her personal ideology but a broad order to halt nonessential procedures to conserve medical equipment like ventilators and surgical masks.

“Everyone is making sacrifices, everyone and so this is a decision that we’re making on a daily basis and that was no different,” she said.

Planned Parenthood learned that Reynolds construed the order to include abortion providers Friday when it came to light after it was mentioned in a social media post by conservative Des Moines radio host Simon Conway. He posted a text he’d received from Reynolds’ spokesman Pat Garrett confirming that the proclamation Reynolds signed Thursday “suspends all nonessential or elective surgeries and procedures until April 16th, that includes surgical abortion procedures.”

On Monday, the ACLU of Iowa and Planned Parenthood Federation of America, on behalf of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, and along with the Emma Goldman Clinic, filed a lawsuit against Reynolds and state public health, public safety and board of medicine agencies.

The groups filing the lawsuit in state court in Johnson County claim Reynolds is focused on advancing her political agenda and interfering in medical decisions that should be left to patients and their doctors.

“The state’s singling out of abortion in this manner during the public health crisis is profoundly harmful to Iowa women, and can’t be justified from a public health perspective,” said ACLU of Iowa Legal Director Rita Bettis Austen.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

The lawsuit says abortion procedures do not require extensive use of medical equipment and do not use N95 respirators, the devices in shortest supply during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Patients’ abortions will be delayed, and in some cases, denied altogether. As a result, Iowa patients will be forced to carry pregnancies to term, resulting in a deprivation of their fundamental right to determine when and whether to have a child or to add to their existing families,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit seeks a court order halting Reynolds’ action pertaining to abortions.

A spokesperson for the governor, Pat Garrett, released the following statement after the filing of the lawsuit:

Governor Reynolds is focused on protecting Iowans from an unprecedented public health disaster, and she suspended all elective surgeries and procedures to preserve Iowa’s health care resources. As the governor has said over and over, Iowans are in this together. We will be working in consultation with the Attorney General’s Office to defend the actions she’s taken.

Patt Garrett, Communications Director Office of the Governor

Other governors have recently taken similar action. The governor of Oklahoma halted abortions there until April 7 and similar moves were made by governors in Texas and Ohio last week.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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