Photo credit: Shane Vander Hart

DES MOINES, Iowa – Planned Parenthood and Emma Goldman Clinic withdrew their petition for a temporary injunction against Gov. Kim Reynolds’ public health emergency declaration last Thursday that called for the suspension of elective surgeries until April 16. 

On Sunday, Reynolds affirmed she considered surgical abortions to be elective. Her order still allowed medical abortions, but the state filed a brief KCRG reported that explained there were more exemptions that what the petitioners had interpreted, and the declaration did not target surgical abortions. For instance, if an abortion needed to be completed before April 16 to be legal, the state’s brief said the declaration’s exemption for procedures where, in not completed, would cause “undue risk to the current or future health of a patient.”  (Caffeinated Thoughts has requested a copy of the brief from the Governor’s office.)

Johnson County District Court Judge Andrew Chappell issued an order acknowledging the petition had been withdrawn.

“Today, the Court entered an order by agreement of the parties that allows physicians to treat abortion the same as other procedures and allows them to make a case-by-case determination for each patient. Therefore, Planned Parenthood will resume seeing patients for in-clinic procedures, in compliance with Gov. Kim Reynolds’ proclamation,” Sarah Stoesz, President & CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States, Rita Bettis Austen, Legal Director for ACLU of Iowa, and the Emma Goldman Clinic said in a joint statement.

Bob Vander Plaats, CEO and President of The FAMiLY Leader, criticized the exemption for abortion providers. 

“Gov. Reynolds acted to preserve desperately needed personal protection equipment (PPE) for the doctors and nurses fighting COVID-19. It’s unconscionable that Planned Parenthood would now sue to hoard PPE from those doctors and nurses, in order to perform elective abortions. Every American is making sacrifices to stop coronavirus deaths, but Planned Parenthood is demanding to do business as usual,” he said. 

The FAMiLY Leader pointed to a statement signed by the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons and the American College of Pediatricians that asserts it’s “medically irresponsible” for Planned Parenthood and other clinics to continue with elective abortion during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Currently, across the United States, services that do constitute essential health care for women, including routine Pap smears, mammograms, and pelvic exams, are being postponed in order to reduce everyone’s risk of exposure to COVID-19, and to conserve scarce medical resources,” the statement reads. “Continuing to perform elective abortions during a pandemic is medically irresponsible. Elective abortion is neither ‘essential’ nor ‘urgent,’ but it does consume critical resources such as masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment, and unnecessarily exposes patients and physicians to pathogens.

“The stress on our medical system is too critical for Planned Parenthood to take a political stand right now,” Vander Plaats continued. “We can argue later about the morality of abortion. And I’d like to have that argument. But COVID-19 doesn’t care whether the doctor is performing a moral or immoral procedure. It doesn’t care whether the surgery is to take a life or save one. And we need the PPE for saving lives.

“Planned Parenthood cannot be so committed to death that they won’t join America in saving lives from COVID-19,” he concluded.

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