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Alaska governor defends suspending abortions for coronavirus crisis

Gov. Mike Dunleavy and the state's chief medical officer have not wavered despite taking heat from Planned Parenthood and some state senators.
Thu Apr 9, 2020 - 3:39 pm EST
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Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy Gov. Mike Dunleavy / Flickr

JUNEAU, Alaska, April 9, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Alaska is the latest state to explicitly include elective abortions among the “medical” procedures to be suspended during the COVID-19 crisis, a move state officials are defending as medical rather than political.

On Tuesday, the state released an update to its mandate that non-urgent medical procedures be delayed, something recommended by U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams and the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to limit the spread of the coronavirus and to free up time and resources to focus on infected patients. The update says that providers “are to postpone surgical abortion procedures unless the life or physical health of the mother is endangered by continuation of the pregnancy during the period of postponement.”

"It is shameful to see elected officials exploit a public health crisis to score political points and restrict abortion access," complained Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest & Hawaii’s director for Alaska Jessica Cler. She claimed that abortion was an “essential, time-sensitive medical procedure.”

“We’re all in this together, we all need to contribute, we all need to do our best right now to move elective surgeries off to the future,” said Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy, defending the move. “I think most Alaskans agree with” reserving as much protective medical equipment (like masks) for COVID-19 efforts.

A handful of state senators have criticized Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer, over the move. 

“That's a really hard job in a setting of a world pandemic with a lack of supplies,” Zink responded. “And I really try to stay out of the political aspect of it and stay 100 percent focused on the health aspect of it. The decisions right now are broad, and they're hard.”

Numerous states have ordered medical facilities to temporarily halt “non-essential” medical procedures, with some specifying that elective abortions are held to the same standards, and others either exempting the procedure or leaving it ambiguous. The abortion lobby has sued in hopes of exempting themselves, a dispute that may soon reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

Pro-life medical experts such as the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) note that, in addition to being non-essential, abortion “generates more patients to be seen in already overburdened emergency rooms.”

“Most abortion providers instruct women to go to an emergency room if they have any concerning symptoms after the abortion,” AAPLOG notes. “Approximately five percent of women who undergo medication abortions will require evaluation in an emergency room, most commonly for hemorrhage. Surgical abortions can also result in hemorrhage. Emergency room personnel – who are already struggling to meet the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic – will be further strained to provide care to these women.”

Meanwhile, legitimate medical institutions across the nation, which have complied with the various government orders and recommendations to focus on COVID-19, have been forced to lay off tens of thousands of healthcare workers, and dramatically cut the hours of remaining employees, due to canceling so many appointments and procedures unrelated to COVID-19.

Readers can click here for LifeSiteNews’ live updates on the coronavirus and its impact all over the world.


  abortion, alaska, anne zink, coronavirus, mike dunleavy, planned parenthood votes northwest & hawaii

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