Elective abortions are among optional procedures delayed during COVID-19 emergency



How does Alaska’s “COVID-19 Health Mandate 5.1,” cancelling or postponing non-urgent and elective surgical procedures, pertain to elective abortions?

On Tuesday, the Dunleavy Administration made it clear that surgical abortions that are elective, rather than to save the life of the mother, are among those to be postponed or canceled for now, as the state seeks to preserve personal protective equipment and medical supplies.

Elective abortions are part of a long list of procedures and surgeries that must wait while the state prepared to take care of an expected surge of COVID-19 patients.

Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum released the five-page list that clarifies all of the medical procedures covered by the mandate, which the State issued on March 19.

The entire list of elective surgeries being postponed is at this link.

For example, under breast cancer, postponed procedures include:

  • Excision of benign lesions-fibroadenomas, nodules, etc…
  • Duct excisions
  • Discordant biopsies likely to be benign
  • High risk lesions-atypia, papillomas, etc…
  • Prophylactic surgery for cancer and noncancer cases
  • Delayed SNB for cancer identified on excisional biopsy
  • cTisN0 lesions-ER positive and negative
  • Re-excision surgery
  • Tumors responding to neoadjuvant hormonal treatment
  • Clinical Stage T1N0 estrogen receptor positive/progesterone receptorpositive/Her2 negative tumors
  • Inflammatory and locally advanced breast cancers

In addition to cancer surgeries, conditions like fecal incontinence surgeries are being delayed. That means some Alaskans are having to wear diapers right now because of a surgery they cannot get. Infertility procedures, such as embryo transfers, are also on the list.

Likewise, surgical abortions must be delayed “unless the life or physical health of the mother is endangered…”

This policy is similar to other states that have enacted the same emergency orders, including Texas, Ohio, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.

Abortion providers and proponents are not pleased and have tried to stop this particular mandate in Texas.

But on Tuesday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Texas over its restriction of abortions during the pandemic. In a 2-1 ruling, the court lifted a lower court order that had halted the restrictions.

“Given … the escalating spread of COVID-19, and the state’s critical interest in protecting the public health, we find the requirements for issuing the writ satisfied,” the court majority said.

Referring to a 1905 Supreme Court decision that says constitutional rights can be restricted during public health emergencies, the court said states are allowed restrict “one’s right to peaceably assemble, to publicly worship, to travel, and even to leave one’s home,” the majority said. “The right to abortion is no exception.”

Jim Minnery, of the Alaska Family Council, agreed. “Abortion doesn’t get treated differently from any other medical procedure. If it’s not essential, and it consumes PPE (personal protective equipment), then the government is saying it must be cancelled or postponed, in order to free up valuable resources for the war on COVID-19.”

Sens. Tom Begich and Jesse Kiehl, however, sent a letter to Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink objecting to elective abortions being on the list, saying the Administration is playing politics and “It is inconsistent with good medical practice, and I believe you know that.”

“Tonight’s mandate violates my trust. It violates the trust of the Alaskans I represent,” Kiehl wrote, “You need to act immediately to restore Alaskans’ trust in you and the team you lead. The stakes for our state are too high for you to let this stand.”

Later on Facebook, Kiehl said Dunleavy’s move was an abuse of power that reminded him of Chicago politics.

Some respond that Senators Kiehl and Begich, who are Democrats, are trying to establish abortions as a super-constitutional right to be protected above all others.

Minnery said, “why are we making an exception for Planned Parenthood when people are having to wait for their cancer surgeries?”

An average of more than three abortions were performed daily in Alaska during 2019, for a total of 1,270. All but 308 of them were surgical abortions, with the others being induced pharmaceutically.

Most credible reports peg the percentage of all abortions that are deemed to be elective is 90 percent or higher.

That means if abortion providers abide by the State emergency order, more than 20 abortions a week will be put on hold. Alaska law does not allow elective abortions after 20 weeks of the baby’s life in the uterus. Some of those in-utero babies will make it past that 20-week gate.

Pro-life advocates expect that abortion industry leader Planned Parenthood will ask the court for an injunction to stop the Dunleavy Administration from enacting this single line of the health mandates. But as of the close of business on Wednesday, April 8, the mandate stands.

Will abortion providers abide by the ruling or violate the order and continue to provide abortions during the COVID-19 pandemic? What powers does the State actually have to stop them? Is the State ready to pull their licenses to practice in Alaska if they knowingly violate the health mandate?

These are uncomfortable questions that the Department of Law probably hopes it doesn’t have to deal with, since anything having to do with abortion is going to end up in court.


  1. “State Sens. Tom Begich and Jesse Kiehl called the inclusion of surgical abortions political, and Begich, the Senate minority leader from Anchorage, said it undermines the credibility of Dr. Anne Zink…”

    • People are dying of cancer and these schmucks are upset not enough babies are dying? Yep, wear it, baby killing Dems.

      • 28,000 people die a DAY of starvation across the globe but this does not seem to make the discussion?

        • That number is going to be a distant and pleasant memory. When people give up the means of growing their own food their food security is removed from them. Counting on grain imports during a worldwide pandemic and dealing with a once in a century locusts swarm is going to get ugly.


          What’s that got to do with the politics of abortion? Are clinics where people are starving closing?

    • What part of “elective” is not clear to them? Meanwhile cancer cases are placed on hold without any press coverage or uproar.

  2. So sad and so expected from the socialists. Hell with others, we want our made up rights! Is so called transgender surgery changes a “right” and not “elective” because of the mental health problems for a man having his stuff and the want to be gal upset and wanting the junk taken off?
    Silly? Yes. On purpose? Yes.
    Dr Zink and the Gov were strong that if the doc says that the surgery is a necessity, then the surgery goes forward for the medical safety of the patient.
    I was thinking about this yesterday when the media was going nuts. Are they worried that by the time the elective surgery ban is lifted maybe the women will have had time to think about it and getting the Mom hormones and now will keep the baby?

  3. Why are we paying for abortions at the state level. HHS should receive no funds from the General fund, Especially when my mineral rights are being taken for the purpose over-bloated government . 2.3 Billion dollars to HHS from our operating budget. This is a no-go without a vote of the people our dividends should be held harmless and we should not pay for any elective surgery especially one that kills another life. If half of our dividends are to be used by the government, then the government must not use our corporations earnings derived from our mineral rights for the maximum benefit of the people and abortion is not on the list. We must have our rights restored. Alaskans are being held hostage by the mis-steps of government and their policies must be to save life and to protect the private sector by not being allowed to have half of our mineral rights which must go only to the Constitutional Budget Reserve and to the Dividend Reserve paid to the people period. We are in a 100 year economic crisis and we must get a maximum benefit for the people not the special interest. They think they can spend the money better than the Alaskans because have you ever seen such hypocracy and spending on behalf of the SOCIAL state. The private sector is 100 percent better equipped to spend their money on real economic activity.

  4. We must understand that Senators Begich and Kiehl are true leftist “progressives”. They really believe that the right to an abortion was written into the Constitution of The United States just like the Bill of Rights and all the rest of the Constitution. The fact that the right to an abortion is not spelled out in the Constitution has no relevancy in their thinking they just believe that it is in there. They are “progressives” and they think that we must reinterpret our Constitution at the whim of supposedly forward thinking citizens of our country and the court system has been their vehicle for this change. However, that thinking does not coincide with their belief that a 18th century musket used to fight for our independence from England does not equate to a modern firearm and that we the average owner of a modern pistol/rifle/shotgun is not the equivalent of the original minute man. Their belief that the “press” should not be regulated is also at odds with “progressive” thinking. The Bill of Rights specifically enumerates rights that we were born with , being a free people, and blocks the federal government from eliminating or excessively regulating these rights and opens the door for States Rights via the Tenth Amendment.

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