The Corner

Politics & Policy

Planned Parenthood Sues Texas for Designating Abortion ‘Non-Essential’

Sign at a protest against a Senate Republican health-care bill on Capitol Hill in 2017. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Several abortion-advocacy groups including Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the Lawyering Project, are suing Texas governor Greg Abbott after the state designated surgical abortion as a non-essential procedure that must be suspended until the coronavirus crisis has passed.

This decision was made in conjunction with the governor’s announcement that all health-care facilities in the state should postpone any procedures that are not medically necessary, so that health-care professionals can handle a surge in COVID-19 cases. In Ohio, lawmakers made a similar decision, and abortion-rights activists have vowed to present a legal challenge there, too.

“While doctors and nurses in Texas work around the clock to care for patients suffering from COVID-19, Governor Abbott is interfering with the personal medical decisions of Texans by using this pandemic to advance his political, anti-abortion agenda,” the Center for Reproductive Rights lawsuit said yesterday evening.

In contrast to these decisions in Texas and Ohio, officials in some states such as Washington and Massachusetts have explicitly declared that elective abortion will be classified as an essential service, even as limits are placed on other medical procedures.

In a fundraising email yesterday evening, Planned Parenthood acting president Alexis McGill Johnson wrote, “Planned Parenthood doctors, nurses, cleaning staff, counselors, and administrators do so much, from reassuring a scared patient to providing expert care without judgment. And right now, they’re putting their health and lives at risk to ensure patients get the information and care they need.”

Evidently, Planned Parenthood would like us all to believe that its centers across the country are providing some kind of vital care to Americans that requires its doors to remain open. A quick review of the websites of the group’s affiliates across the country reveal that Planned Parenthood is fighting to keep performing abortions, but little else. Here’s a small sampling of their sites’ messages about COVID-19:

  • Planned Parenthood of Central California Coast: “Before your appointment with us: If you have a fever and cough, please remain at home or see your primary care provider.”
  • Planned Parenthood of Arizona: “We are monitoring the rapidly evolving COVID-19 outbreak and all of our health centers remain open for sexual and reproductive health care.” (Emphasis added.)
  • Planned Parenthood of Michigan: “Symptoms of COVID-19 (coronavirus) include: fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath. For the safety of our patients, staff, and community, ANYONE WITH THESE SYMPTOMS WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO ENTER THE HEALTH CENTER.”
  • Planned Parenthood of Central and Western New York: “If you are experiencing a fever, a cough or shortness of breath, please do not come to one of our health centers for your appointment or walk-in. Call your health care provider.”
  • Planned Parenthood of New York City: “If you are experiencing a fever OR cough OR shortness of breath OR sore throat, please do not come to one of our health centers for your appointment. . . . We do not offer Coronavirus testing in any of our health centers at this time.”
  • Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania: “COVID-19 UPDATE: Our Abortion Centers are open! Effective March 25, 2020, we have temporarily closed our Health Centers to ensure the health and safety of our patients, staff, and community.” (In other words, any clinic that doesn’t perform abortions is now closed.)
  • Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest: “We are accepting new appointments for essential services only, including birth control and abortion.”

Again and again, the message from Planned Parenthood’s affiliates is clear: If there’s any chance you might have COVID-19, stay away, but we’ll still be here performing abortions!

If Planned Parenthood really were an essential health-care organization, as its executives and supporters so often claim, wouldn’t its affiliates be suspending elective procedures such as abortion to focus on helping with the health-care crisis ravaging the country? Instead, the group is wasting valuable time and resources suing lawmakers who are trying to reduce unnecessary instances in which the virus could spread.

There are shortages of personal protective equipment across the country, making it difficult for doctors and nurses to care for COVID-19 patients safely. More and more health-care providers are succumbing to sickness themselves, and thousands of retired medical professionals are volunteering to come out of retirement to help manage the crisis. Aren’t there better ways for Planned Parenthood to contribute to this battle than by fighting tooth and nail to profit from abortion?

One of Planned Parenthood’s favorite slogans is “Care, no matter what.” As the coronavirus strikes the U.S., the group has revealed once again that its real priority is “Abortion, no matter what.”


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