Tennessee gov hopes no ‘elective’ abortions with virus order

Published 7:44 am Thursday, March 26, 2020

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s “hope and expectation” is that there will be no “elective” abortions performed in the state under an executive order that bars non-essential medical procedures to free up protective equipment for hospitals treating the coronavirus, his spokesman said Wednesday.
Officials in Ohio and Texas have likewise interpreted executive orders that limit non-essential medical procedures to bar many abortion procedures.
“The intent of this Executive Order is to gain greater access to (personal protective equipment),” Lee spokesman Gillum Ferguson said in a statement. “Gov. Lee believes elective abortions aren’t essential procedures and given the state of PPE in Tennessee and across the country his hope and expectation would be that those procedures not take place during this crisis.”
Lee, a Republican, on Monday ordered a halt to non-emergency dental work and nonessential hospital and surgical outpatient procedures, but the order did not specifically mention abortion. The order is effective until April 13. It does not specify penalties for noncompliance.
The order defines a non-essential procedure as one “that is not necessary to address a medical emergency or to preserve the health and safety of a patient, as determined by a licensed medical provider.”
Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi declined to comment through a spokesman.

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