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The World Health Organization (WHO) has qualified abortions as an essential medical service despite the coronavirus outbreak. This comes as patients across the US are barred from having elective surgeries, many of which are considered serious procedures.
“Women’s choices and rights to sexual and reproductive health care should be respected, irrespective of whether or not she has a suspected or confirmed Covid-19 infection, including access to contraception and safe abortion to the full extent of the law,” the WHO said in a statement.
Governors and health officials across the US have made independent decisions as to whether abortions can be considered essential during this global crisis. According to the Daily Caller, “Texas, Ohio, Oklahoma, Indiana and Iowa as well as the governor of Mississippi declared abortions non-essential and banned these procedures to preserve PPE for fighting coronavirus.”
States that have followed the WHO’s statement that abortions are to remain essential include Hawaii, Michigan, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Indiana, New Jersey, Illinois, Oregon, and Virginia.
Pro-life leaders have questioned whether the US should continue funding the WHO because of its stance on abortion during a pandemic.
“The Covid-19 crisis has been a sadly eye-opening experience that will cause Americans to rethink our support of specific practices and institutions including the WHO,” Concerned Women for America President Penny Young Nance said, according to Fox News.
“American taxpayer dollars must only support institutions with our best interests at heart, including the most innocent and vulnerable among us. There will be a reckoning after this is over.”
The Susan B. Anthony List President of Communications Mallory Quigley referred to the WHO’s support for abortion “disturbing.”
"The taking of an innocent life and the wounding of women through abortion is never essential," Quigley said in a statement to Fox News.
"Women need a lot of things to prosper—education, equal treatment under the law, economic equality—but abortion is not the thing that empowers women," Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins told Fox News.
"Pregnancy is not a disease cured by abortion, and using American tax dollars to prop up an organization committed to abortion is a misuse of scarce resources. The Trump Administration should restrict funds to organizations funding and supporting abortion to better invest in real solutions to world problems," she said.
Some have taken to Twitter to express their discontent with the WHO’s position that abortion is essential, while elective surgeries across the US are being indefinitely put on hold—some of which may be life-saving.
The medical industry is set to lose billions of dollars as hospitals across the country are postponing elective surgeries in an effort to make more beds available and personal protective equipment for the treatment of COVID-19.
Hospitals in North Carolina are losing $1 billion a month to COVID-19, and $800 million of that is lost revenue from surgeries that state health officials have decided to push back due to the pandemic. According to The News & Observer, “Cape Fear Valley Health in Fayetteville said last week it would furlough about 300 employees, while Southeastern Health in Lumberton said it would reduce its staff by 201.”
Texas is taking a more aggressive stance, where hospitals could face fines and providers could face jail if they don’t comply with the order postponing elective procedures. Governor Greg Abbott, according to Politico, “announced the creation of a “strike force” to help Texas procure medical supplies and said that he was deploying the National Guard to help providers organize testing areas and assist hospitals in creating more bed space.”
In Ohio, the only surgeries allowed are those that pose a threat to a patient’s life if surgery is not performed, threat of a permanent dysfunction of an extremity or organ system, risk of metastasis or progression of staging, or risk of rapidly worsening to severe symptoms.
Elective surgery does not imply that the surgery is not crucial or potentially life-saving. The Atlantic reported on the story of Robert Cruickshank, who, when he went to the ER with abdominal pain, was diagnosed with gallstones. But instead of having a procedure scheduled to have the stone immediately removed, he was told that, due to the coronavirus outbreak, that his procedure would be postponed indefinitely.
Patients with serious health issues are not being given a timetable for when they can expect to have their elective procedure—a procedure that may very well save their life.