Doctors sue to stop surgical abortions in Minnesota during pandemic

| April 29, 2020 | 0 Comments

A coalition of doctors and Minnesota residents is suing the state’s abortion providers to stop them from performing surgical abortions during the coronavirus pandemic, arguing they are using masks, gloves and gowns needed to treat COVID-19 patients.

Elective surgeries have been suspended under Gov. Tim Walz’s stay-at-home order, but abortion is being incorrectly treated as an essential service, said Erick Kaardal, Thomas More Society special counsel, who filed the lawsuit April 28 in U.S. District Court in St. Paul.

Surgical abortion also is being allowed even when medication abortion, which uses less personal protective equipment, remains available as an alternative means of aborting a pregnancy, Kaardal said.

“Not only is the governor’s action in allowing elective surgical abortion dangerously unsafe, but critically and irresponsibly wasteful. These elective abortion procedures take personal protective equipment away from hospitals, clinics, emergency rooms, doctors, nurses, and others on the frontlines of trying to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus,” Kaardal said in a news release from the Thomas More Society, a national, nonprofit law firm that provides pro bono legal services in cases involving life, family and religious liberty issues.

The lawsuit also is challenging the governor’s decision to exempt workers in abortion clinics from executive orders that mandate social distancing, the society said.

In an interview April 29 with The Catholic Spirit, Kaardal said the lawsuit against state leaders and the abortion providers is bolstered by a recent case out of Arkansas, when the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Minnesota in its jurisdiction, upheld that governor’s decision to include surgical abortions among nonessential services.

The lawsuit names Walz, Jan Malcolm, commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Health, and Minnesota abortion providers Planned Parenthood North Central States, Whole Woman’s Health of the Twin Cities, WE Health Clinic and Robbinsdale Clinic.

A telephone call to Walz’s office was not immediately returned. Scott Smith, a spokesman for the Department of Health, referred to Walz’s office and the executive order, which placed clinics providing reproductive health care among essential services that can stay open.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include AALFA Family Clinic in White Bear Lake; the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which has more than 4,500 members; Pro-Life Action Ministries of Minnesota; and nine individuals from around the state.

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