Accuracy in Media

Planned Parenthood claimed that its clinics should not be closed during the coronavirus crisis because it provides “essential” services. ABC News undermined Planned Parenthood’s argument on a technicality.

ABC News headlined the issue, which pitted Planned Parenthood against states such as Texas and Ohio, “Are abortions considered ‘essential’ medical procedures amid COVID-19 outbreak?” Texas and Ohio informed Planned Parenthood that its services are not considered essential in the eyes of state officials and therefore, it must cease performing abortions and its other services in order to prioritize coronavirus treatments. The organization sued Texas and claimed it provides essential services despite the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that all non-essential medical procedures should be postponed, such as, “routine dermatological, ophthalmological and dental procedures, as well as most scheduled health care procedures that are not immediately medically necessary such as orthopedic surgeries or any type of abortion that is not medically necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.” The state’s attorney general also backed Abbott’s executive order and added that any non-compliant actions could result in penalties of up to a $1,000 fine or 180 days of jail time.

The state of Ohio sent a cease and desist letter to several Planned Parenthood clinics to “immediately stop performing non-essential and elective surgical abortions.” ABC News quoted Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s office, which said, “This is not an abortion issue. A letter was also sent to a urology group that was allegedly performing elective surgeries.”

ABC News’s reporting pointed out that Planned Parenthood provides “elective” surgeries like other outpatient clinics and it could be compared to things such as knee surgeries. Elective surgeries, according to the definitions from Texas and Ohio, are surgeries that do not involve life-or-death situations. ABC News undermined Planned Parenthood’s claim that it provides essential services on this technicality, which called into question whether abortion services are essential to begin with.

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