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Oklahoma governor halts abortions amid virus outbreak


March 27, 2020

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Abortions will be prohibited in Oklahoma under the state's ban on elective surgeries during the coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Friday.

Stitt amended his executive order to specifically prohibit abortions unless necessary to prevent health risks to the mother. The ban would apply through April 7, although it could be extended.

The governor issued an executive order Tuesday suspending all elective surgeries and minor medical procedures for 14 days to preserve dwindling supplies of protective equipment such as gloves, masks and face shields.

Abortion rights groups immediately denounced Stitt's proposal.

"Oklahoma is the latest in a dangerous and alarming trend of state governments' abusing emergency powers to attempt to ban abortion care," said Nancy Northrup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, a New York-based abortion rights group that has successfully sued Oklahoma several times over restrictions on abortion.

"The Center for Reproductive Rights is working with clinics in Oklahoma to assess the State's orders and will pursue every legal avenue to keep abortion available in the state."

Governors in Texas and Ohio have imposed similar abortion bans, leading to a federal lawsuit in the Lone Star State.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, which can include fever and cough but also milder cases of pneumonia, sometimes requiring hospitalization. The risk of death is greater for older adults and people with other health problems.

Oklahoma has had 322 confirmed cases of coronavirus, although health officials say the actual number of infected persons is likely much higher. At least eight people have died, and more than 100 have been hospitalized.

Stitt announced Friday that the state had received enough supplies from the federal government to conduct 10,000 tests and that those would be performed at the state health lab and Oklahoma's two research universities. The state has conducted only 1,300 tests so far, although others have been performed at private labs.

Also on Friday, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said his office was working with federal prosecutors to combat fraud and price gouging related to the coronavirus. Hunter's consumer protection division had received nearly 200 complaints through Friday, mostly reports of price gouging essential supplies such as toilet paper, hand sanitizer and groceries.

"During times of crisis, we should all be taking action to help those in need, not exploiting our neighbors for personal financial gain," Hunter said.


Check out more of the AP's coronavirus coverage at and


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