COLUMBUS (WCMH) — An order from the Ohio Department of Health canceling elective surgeries earlier this week has resulted in two abortion clinics in the state receiving an order from the Attorney General’s office to halt offering abortions.

Attorney General David Yost sent the clinics a letter ordering them to stop surgical abortions immediately in an effort to preserve personal protective equipment (PPE) in the fight against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

“On behalf of the Department, you and your facility are ordered to immediately stop performing non-essential and elective surgical abortions,” each letter states. “Non-essential surgical abortions are those that can be delayed without undue risk to the current or future health of
a patient.”

The letters were sent to Women’s Med Center in Dayton and Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio in Cincinnati.

In response, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland issued a statement, which reads, in part:

“Abortion care is a time-sensitive medical situation that cannot be significantly delayed without profound consequences. As part of the continuum of pregnancy care, abortion is provided for almost one in five pregnancies in the United States. Ohioans are continuing to rely on their trusted community abortion providers during this crisis, and Ohio’s elected officials should not stand between patients and their doctors. Abortion is an essential health service. Attorney General Dave Yost and Ohio Right to Life president and State Medical Board member Mike Gonidakis should not be exploiting the COVID-19 crisis to further their agenda to close Ohio’s abortion clinics.”

At Saturday’s press conference, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton and Gov. Mike DeWine both did not directly address whether abortion is a procedure covered in the order.

“I am the doctor for 11.7 million people, and all women, no matter where they fall on this, and I think that’s very important, we cannot allow the politics of things to get in the way of doing what we have to do in a state of emergency,” Acton said.

DeWine urged people to look at Acton’s elective surgery order, adding, “I’m going to leave it at that.”

A statement from the presidents and CEOs of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio and Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region said the health care facility was complying with the health department’s order by preserving and reducing the use of equipment that is in short supply.

“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,” the statement reads.