In light of confusion as to whether or not Ohio abortion clinics remain open during the coronavirus pandemic, Kellie Copeland, executive director for NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, issued the following statement on Monday:
In this unprecedented time, all of us are struggling to take care of ourselves and each other. My heart is with you, whether you are facing an unintended pregnancy, sudden lack of child care, the loss of a job, illness, or the fears and anxiety of this moment.
Because Attorney General David Yost has taken politically-motivated action to attempt to prevent Ohioans from accessing the time-sensitive and essential abortion care they need in their communities, you may have questions about the state of abortion access in Ohio. We have compiled a list of FAQs below to help answer your questions. Please forward this information to anyone you think may need it.
We cannot predict what will happen in the days or weeks to come. But I want you to know that the team at NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio is standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Ohio’s abortion providers and advocates to protect your access to abortion and other vital reproductive health care during, and after, this crisis.
Are Ohio abortion clinics open for patients?
As of today, Tuesday, March 24, yes.
Find a list of clinic websites at ProChoiceOhio.org/Clinics. Please call the clinic for up-to-date information on scheduling an appointment.
Are Ohio’s abortion clinics complying with orders from Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton?
On Tuesday, March 17, Dr. Acton issued a public health order stating that “non-essential” surgeries and medical procedures must be cancelled and rescheduled. The order listed specific criteria for what would be considered “essential” health care under that order. The order went into effect at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18.
Abortion care is essential health care. Prior to ODH’s order, abortion clinics in Ohio had already instituted detailed screening processes for staff and patients. Clinics had put procedures into place to preserve personal protective equipment and to protect the health of both their staff and their patients.
Is there help available to pay for my abortion or to help me get to a clinic?
If you are unable to pay for the abortion you need, or if you are struggling to get to a clinic or pay for travel expenses, please contact the abortion clinic nearest to you as soon as possible.
We also encourage you to contact Women Have Options-Ohio by visiting womenhaveoptions.org/help for further information about financial assistance.
What about emergency contraception?
Emergency contraception is a safe way to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex, including sexual assault or a condom failure. Emergency contraception is NOT the same as medication abortion. Emergency contraception can be obtained at Planned Parenthood and other health centers, and on the shelf at most drug and grocery stores.
There are a few types of emergency contraception, and some work better than others. The most common form of emergency contraception—Plan B—must be taken within three days after unprotected sex. You can obtain emergency contraception now to have on hand in case you or a friend need it later.
Didn’t the Ohio Attorney General order abortion clinics to close?
Over the weekend, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost sent a letter to Ohio’s abortion providers instructing them to stop providing non-essential abortion care under the order to stop all “non-essential” surgeries and medical procedures.
Abortion care is a time-sensitive medical situation that cannot be significantly delayed without profound consequences. Ohio’s abortion clinics are serving patients in compliance with Ohio Department of Health guidelines. Attorney General Dave Yost and Ohio Right to Life President—and State Medical Board member—Mike Gonidakis should not be exploiting the COVID-19 crisis to further their agenda to close Ohio’s abortion clinics.
Should I contact the attorney general’s office?
Yes. Tell Attorney General Yost to stop playing politics with Ohio’s public health. You can call his office at 800-282-0515, or you can send him an online message by visiting ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Contact. Thank you for being vocal in support of Ohio abortion clinics!
People decide to end their pregnancies for a complex constellation of reasons that include the impact of pregnancy and birth on their health, ability to work, and strained economic circumstances. These are conditions that do not go away—and are likely heightened—in pandemic conditions.
Denying or delaying abortion care places an immediate burden on patients, their families, and the health system, and can have profound and lasting consequences. Patients presenting for time-sensitive care, including abortion care, need timely access to treatment, even during this pandemic.
What about telemedicine?
Some Ohio abortion clinics may also use telemedicine to provide medication abortion care to their patients who are unable to travel to large cities. Telemedicine abortion allows for a patient to visit a health care facility in their own area and speak with a physician in another Ohio city. The patient and physician still complete one face-to-face visit as required by Ohio law, and their hometown doctor is able to provide appropriate patient monitoring and after-care, if needed. Telemedicine abortion is safe, responsible and should not be banned through pending Senate Bill 260.
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