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Health Politics

Oklahoma governor bans abortions to preserve PPE during Coronavirus crisis

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Mary Margaret Olohan on March 27, 2020

The governor of Oklahoma announced Friday that abortions are temporarily banned in the state.

Republican Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Tuesday in an executive order that elective medical procedures would be postponed until April 7. The governor clarified Friday that abortions are included in this executive order.

No abortions will be permitted in the state of Oklahoma until April 7 unless there is a medical emergency, the governor’s office said in a press release. The move came as a result of an increased demand for hospital beds and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

“We must ensure that our health care professionals, first responders and medical facilities have all of the resources they need to combat COVID-19,” Stitt said. “I am committed to doing whatever necessary to protect those who are on the front lines fighting against this virus.”

Oklahoma has a variety of restrictions on abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Abortions can only be obtained after 20 weeks in cases of life endangerment or the health of the mother is severely compromised. A minor may not receive an abortion unless her parents have consented and are notified before she obtains the abortion.

Women who wish to receive abortions in Oklahoma must first have state-directed counseling, wait 72 hours before the procedure, and undergo an ultrasound before the abortion. Abortions are not permitted if they are based on sex selection, and clinics are held to high standards of equipment and staffing that Guttmacher calls “unnecessary and burdensome.”

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