Iowa Sued for Declaring Abortion a Non-Essential Procedure

Kelsey Kremer/The Des Moines Register via AP, Pool

By Emiene Wright

March 30, 2020

Abortion advocates filed a lawsuit on Monday to block Gov. Kim Reynolds’ proclamation to suspend all non-essential medical procedures from including surgical abortions.

The governor of Iowa has followed anti-choice officials in Oklahoma,Texas, Ohio, and Mississippi in using the coronavirus medical crisis to restrict women from accessing legal abortion procedures. Oklahoma has halted abortions until April 7, Iowa until April 16, and Texas at least until April 21.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds issued her proclamation Thursday suspending “all nonessential or elective surgeries and procedures until April 16th, that includes surgical abortion procedures,” a spokesman for Iowa wrote in a statement to the Des Moines Register.

A national shortage of medical supplies and protective equipment, such as masks, gowns and surgical gloves, has prompted many states to restrict non-essential or elective surgeries and procedures. Some states, like Massachusetts and Washington, have explicitly clarified that abortions are not prohibited under the order. 

RELATED: Texas Governor Used Coronavirus as an Excuse to Ban Abortion. Now He’s Being Sued.

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 Gov. Reynolds in an effort to block her order as it applies to abortions.

“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 Rita Bettis Austen, ACLU of Iowa legal director in a statement. “Abortion is an essential, time-sensitive, and constitutionally protected medical procedure. This move follows the state’s numerous prior efforts to ban abortion in Iowa and make abortion more difficult and costly to obtain, all of which, like this decision, have been completely unjustified medically and have been blocked by the courts as unconstitutional. This is the worst time for it to try again.”

Activists and medical experts agree that abortions are essential and women should not be required to wait until the pandemic ends to get the procedure. The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology released a joint statement with a number of other medical organizations insisting abortion be exempt from the list of medical procedures to be postponed. 

“The consequences of being unable to obtain an abortion profoundly impact a person’s life, health, and well-being,” the statement read.


CATEGORIES: Coronavirus | Health


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