While the state of Minnesota has forced the closure of churches and businesses, because they are deemed non-essential, the state is allowing abortion clinics to continue operating—deeming these to be “essential” businesses.
Where Republicans governors in other states have restricted abortion clinic operations as part of the broader “shelter in place” order, Minnesota Democrat Governor Tim Walz is allowing abortions to continue. Walz’s initial stay-at-home order classified “reproductive health workers” as essential. And Walz’s executive action on “elective medical procedures” doesn’t apply to abortion. “The order does not apply to the full suite of family planning services,” said a state official.
This is in spite of Walz’s executive action on elective procedures shutting down most medical operations, surgeries, and even cancer treatments, deeming these to be “nonessential.” The executive action orders that most medical activities cease, but makes exception for medical services that can’t “be delayed without undue risk to the current or future health of a patient.”
Planned Parenthood couldn’t be happier. According to the Star Tribune, Sarah Stoesz, the CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States (which is the Planned Parenthood franchisee in Minnesota), said: “We believe all abortions, if women seek them, are essential… Consequently, we have worked very hard to make sure that we are able to provide those services in Minnesota, because Gov. Walz also understands the real-life needs of women in our state.”
This has drawn sharp criticism, however, from conservatives. “I just think that it’s indefensible to tell cancer patients they can’t have a chemo treatment, a lifesaving chemo treatment, but it’s OK for abortions to go forward,” said Republican Rep. Peggy Scott.
A Twin Cities law professor, who would like to remain anonymous, asked the following: “How could it be rational or constitutional to proscribe a life saving procedure while allowing an abortion that is not for the purpose of saving the woman’s life?”
The law professor continued: “Also, a woman who visits an abortion clinic and interacts with the abortionists poses a risk of contagion to third parties whom she later encounters, as well as to the abortionists. And the abortionists likewise pose a risk of infecting her as well as third parties.”
The Star Tribune article covering Minnesota’s decision to allow abortion despite the shutdown ends with Stoesz, the local Planned Parenthood franchise CEO, making claims about how essential Planned Parenthood is: “It’s not that we think things like cancer screenings aren’t extremely important or essential, but they don’t have to happen today. If we can postpone them for some period of time that allows our providers to focus on other things, it also allows us to provide [personal protective equipment], which is very important.”
It should be noted that, despite Stoesz’s claim, Planned Parenthood doesn’t have any licensed mammogram facilities, and makes a large chunk of their profit (probably the vast majority of revenue after cost) from abortion.