The Louisiana Department of Health issued an emergency rule temporarily banning all medical and surgical procedures but refused to confirm that abortions are included in the order — despite media confusion on the matter.
The state’s department of health declared March 21 that “any and all medical and surgical procedures” be postponed due to coronavirus. The directive also said that medical and surgical treatments for emergency medical conditions would be still be permitted, but did not specify whether abortions were included in this category.
The Louisiana Department of Health refused to address whether abortions are banned in the state to the Daily Caller News Foundation. After multiple requests for comment throughout Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the state health department told the DCNF on Friday that the “state has not issued guidance or directives to any specific medical field.”
“LDH has, in an attempt to conserve our limited hospital bed space and personal protective equipment, issued an emergency rule requiring any and all medical and surgical procedures to be postponed,” press secretary Kelly Zimmerman told the DCNF. “However, medical and surgical treatments necessary to treat an emergency medical condition are still allowed.”
“Doctors have to use their medical judgment to determine what is and what isn’t an emergency medical procedure,” Zimmerman added. (RELATED: These States Say Abortions Must Be Halted During The Coronavirus Pandemic)
The LDH’s refusal to address the matter came despite reports that abortions are banned in the state of Louisiana.
Local New Orleans Radio outlet WWNO reported that three remaining abortion clinics in Louisiana have temporarily closed as a result of the state health department’s order, while the pro-life group Live Action publicized that Hope Medical Clinic for Women remains open.
BREAKING: @HopeClinicWomen is committing abortions in defiance of a state ban on abortion & most surgical procedures
“We are the only facility that I know anywhere nearby that’s open & operating, & we’ll stay open & operating as long as possible,” they told our investigator
— Live Action (@LiveAction) March 27, 2020
Hope Medical Clinic has not responded to multiple emailed requests for comment from the DCNF. An employee confirmed to the DCNF that the clinic is still offering abortions, but hung up after saying she would not give her name because she did not know the DCNF reporter or publication.
Health departments under Republican governors in Texas and Ohio as well as the governor of Mississippi have specifically said that abortions are non-essential and must be banned in order to reserve Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for fighting coronavirus.
PPE can include respirators, eye protection, hearing protection, protective clothing, gas masks, gloves, overalls, boots and goggles, according to the CDC.
Pro-life Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards did not respond to requests for comment from the DCNF.
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