Planned Parenthood: Executive order on nonessential surgeries allows for abortions

Planned Parenthood: Executive order on nonessential surgeries allows for abortions

From the Tucson-area coronavirus coverage from January to March: Nearly 1,300 cases in Arizona, stay-at-home order series

PHOENIX — Abortions remain available in Arizona despite the orders by Gov. Doug Ducey to halt all “non-essential or elective” surgeries.

Bryan Howard, president of Planned Parenthood Arizona, told Capitol Media Services the governor’s March 19 executive order banning those procedures is written in a way to provide for exceptions.

One, he said, allows doctors to perform procedures that, if delayed, will endanger the patient.

And Howard noted the order effectively “deputizes the health-care provider to make a determination in each case.”

Howard, however, won’t say what procedures are still being done and which are being classified by Planned Parenthood as essential.

That interpretation apparently satisfies Ducey.

“The intention of the executive order is to reserve critical supplies like ventilators and personal protective equipment for essential surgeries and for health-care workers responding to COVID-19,” gubernatorial press aide Patrick Ptak said. “It’s also intended to free up hospital capacity.”

He said the order does not reference specific surgeries.

“Instead, it allows licensed medical professional to use their best medical judgment in determining what surgery is essential or non-elective,” he said.

What makes that stance important — beyond the fact that Ducey has said he opposes abortion — is that it comes as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is in federal court defending his own similar executive order.

Abbott’s order has exceptions only for surgeries and procedures that are “immediately medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition ... or preserve the life of a patient” who without immediate action, would be at risk of serious adverse medical consequences or death, as determined by the patient’s physician.

Ducey’s order has some similar language, saying that surgeries are not elective if delaying it would threaten the patient’s life, lead to permanent dysfunction or impairment of any body part, or require the patient to remain hospitalized if the surgery was delayed.

But there’s something else.

“A licensed medical professional shall use their best medical judgment in determining whether a surgery is non-essential or elective,” Ducey’s order reads.

Howard said that language is crucial.

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