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TORONTO, May 1, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Ontario’s hospitals continue to commit abortions as an “essential service” even as they cancel or delay cancer and heart surgeries under COVID-19 pandemic protocols, and amid warnings that dozens of people may have died as a direct result of such delays.

Indeed, Ontario health minister Christine Elliott acknowledged earlier this week that a data analysis released by the Toronto University Health Network estimated that 35 people may have died because they didn’t get cardiac surgery in time, the Canadian Press reported.

Moreover, Ontario’s Financial Accountability Office (FAO) released a report the same day that also warned that continuing delays will bring “worse health outcomes.”

As of April 22, “up to 52,700 hospital procedures have been cancelled or avoided,” and “every week that the COVID-19 outbreak continues, up to 12,200 more procedures are delayed,” the FAO reported.

While this frees up resources for COVID-19 patients, “it also will lead to significant demand pressure for hospitals in the longer-term,” stated the FAO report.

“Since most of the delayed procedures are medically required, the longer procedures are postponed, the worse health outcomes Ontarians could have and the harder it will be for hospitals to eventually clear the backlog of delayed procedures.”

But by all reports, none of this affects abortion, which continues as usual in hospitals with minimal delays.

This was confirmed by hospitals in Ottawa, Toronto, and London contacted by LifeSiteNews.

“For abortion, we are booking appointments as we were doing earlier; this Covid-19 thing doesn’t affect booking appointments for abortion,” a medical officer at the Bay Center for Birth Control at Toronto’s Women’s College Hospital told LifeSiteNews.

As for the coronavirus risk, “all the patients have to go through the screening process,” she said. If a mother tests negative for COVID-19, “they will do the procedure,” and if she tests positive, “as far as I know, they have to book a treatment, or, whatever they have to do, they will do it.”

“We’re still doing them,” a representative from the Family Planning Clinic at Ottawa Hospital’s Riverside Campus told LifeSiteNews, adding: “We’re considered an essential service, so we’re still running.”

“We’re still doing them, yes,” stated a staff member at the Pregnancy Options Program at the Women’s Health Care Center at London’s Health Science Center.

According to Pregnancy Options’ recorded message, it “offers medical abortion services up to 10 weeks gestation and surgical abortion services up to 24 weeks.” There may be a two-week waiting period between the initial contact and an assessment with a nurse, the recording says.

Another source told LifeSiteNews on the condition of anonymity that one Ontario hospital is doing multiple abortions every other week while significantly reducing the number of breast, colon, liver, and skin cancer surgeries.

While a woman will wait at most two weeks for an abortion, cancer patients are facing indeterminate delays for surgery, which is often the first step in their treatment, the source said.

This was confirmed by Dr. Stewart Kennedy, head of the COVID-19 response team at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, who told local media that cancer surgeries have decreased 34 percent since the pandemic protocols have been put in place.

He also warned of the dire consequences of delaying so many surgeries — a policy the Ford government shows no sign of changing anytime soon.

“I’ve said multiple times we’re going to have more deaths, not from COVID-19, but from the backlog of services and people not wanting to address their urgent needs,” Kennedy told Thunder Bay NewsWatch.

Other jurisdictions, such as Japan, have reported that a “delay in particular types of surgery” has led to “a 17 per cent increase in morbidity,” which is the rate of disease in a specific population, or “disease burden,” Kennedy said.

“Morbidity can lead to mortality.”

Similar concerns were expressed by Ontarian Janet Smith, who wrote to Premier Doug Ford thanking him for his efforts to contain the pandemic but questioning why abortion facilities remain open “when your government insists that all unnecessary medical tests and surgeries be cancelled or postponed.”

“I suffer from a undiagnosed condition and have now been told that I must wait for the tests until July at the very earliest; my husband could go blind if he does not regularly see his physician,” wrote Smith in the letter, which was obtained by LifeSiteNews.

“[B]ut these appointments have also been postponed in order to free up medical equipment and healthcare personnel,” she said. “What about all the medical equipment and medications that abortion requires? Why are they not being added to the fight against this coronavirus?”

“Allowing elective abortions is a slap in the face to all those who have made and are still making sacrifices for the better good of our province.”

LifeSiteNews contacted Elliott and the ministry of health for comment but did not receive a response.

Campaign Life Coalition, Canada’s national pro-life, pro-family political lobbying group, has blasted the premiers for not canceling abortions during the pandemic as non-essential.

“Pro-life Canadians are disgusted by the fact that medically unnecessary, elective abortions, committed purely for reasons of lifestyle convenience, are being prioritized ahead of genuine medical treatments, like breast cancer surgery, and other operations and treatments that are actually necessary to keep people alive and healthy,” said Jack Fonseca, Campaign Life director of political operations.

“Are Canada’s provincial health ministers and premiers insane? Does Christine Elliott in Ontario, and all her provincial counterparts around the country, really want to tell women with breast cancer that their surgeries are less ‘essential’  than someone who wants to kill her unborn baby?” he pointed out in an email to LifeSiteNews.

“We have to raise our voices to tell our Premiers and Health Ministers that abortion is never medically necessary, and therefore, all elective abortions must be halted immediately and throughout this Wuhan virus pandemic.”

Campaign Life is urging Canadians to sign its petition to the premiers, which includes a postcard feature, here. Campaign Life is also asking Canadians to call their premiers and has provided a suggested script here