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Anti-Abortion Rights Groups Ask HHS To Urge End To Abortion During Pandemic

A coalition of anti-abortion rights groups is asking federal health officials to urge abortion providers to shut down during the coronavirus outbreak.

In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, dozens of national conservative groups opposed to abortion rights call on federal health officials to urge abortion providers to "cease operations" and donate medical equipment like masks and hospital gowns to the coronavirus response. Signers include the Susan B. Anthony List, the American Center for Law and Justice, and the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

The letter also asks officials to make sure that access to medication abortion is not expanded via telemedicine or other methods as a result of the pandemic, and that emergency response funds are not given to abortion providers.

It follows actions by Republican governors and attorneys general in Texas and Ohio, who've ordered clinics in their states to stop performing most abortions as part of a larger effort to preserve personal protective equipment, or PPE, for medical professionals caring for COVID-19 patients.

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In other states, such as Massachusetts and New Jersey, officials have explicitly clarified that abortion is not subject to orders postponing non-essential and elective procedures during the pandemic.

Reproductive health groups, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, say abortion is an essential procedure, and that delaying it can be harmful to pregnant patients.

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