DES MOINES, Iowa — In an effort to preserve as much personal protective equipment (PPE) as possible, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is limiting elective medical procedures during the coronavirus emergency. Her decision isn’t sitting well with some Iowans because abortions are included in the list of elective, or non-essential medical procedures currently on hold.
Gov. Reynolds has not been shy about her opposition to abortion in the past, as she has supported legislation that would restrict them, but she says this decision has nothing to do with personal convictions.
“The decisions that I have made have been made in the vein of really helping us strategically use our PPE stockpile that we have. That has been an issue from the very beginning of this,” Gov. Reynolds said in a press conference Sunday.
These procedures, including dental procedures, are suspended until April 16th. The action comes as Iowa is experiencing a surge in new positive cases of coronavirus. Public health officials announced 102 more positive cases over the weekend. That brings the total number of cases to 336 in the state. There was also three additional deaths over the weekend.
Suspending abortions follows suit with a handful of other states like Ohio, Texas and Mississippi. But the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists pushed back. They said they do not support COVID-19 responses that cancel or delay abortions in a statement that says in part:
“Abortion is an essential component of comprehensive health care. It is also a time-sensitive service for which a delay of several weeks, or in some cases days, may increase the risks or potentially make it completely inaccessible. The consequences of being unable to obtain an abortion profoundly impact a person’s life, health, and well-being.”American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Gov. Reynolds said all her decisions regarding COVID-19 have not been taken lightly.
“I didn’t close down bars and restaurants to go after the hospitality sector. I did that because we felt that that was an area where we would have potential spread based on data,” Gov. Reynolds said. “We didn’t make the decision lightly to recommend shutting schools for four weeks. We did that, again, because we wanted to [flatten] the curve, [not] overwhelm our health care systems and really help spread this out so we could preserve that PPE.”
She went on to talk about other decisions she has made for the state.
“I didn’t suspend churches and gatherings of more than 10 people to go after our faith community. I did that, again, as part of our metric and our strategy in helping to protect our most vulnerable. It was to make sure that we could protect the PPE and that we could get through this pandemic sooner rather than later. Everyone is making sacrifices, everyone,” Gov. Reynolds said.
Gov. Reynolds also noted they want to reduce usage of anesthesia machines for other medical procedures because those can be converted to makeshift ventilators if need be.