If our nation’s governors want to save lives during the COVID-19 outbreak, they must start by closing abortion clinics.
In my home state of Tennessee, Gov. Bill Lee closed all non-essential businesses in his April 2 stay-at-home order to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China last November. Abortion services, however, are still operating.
At first, I thought this couldn’t be true. Lee is a self-proclaimed Christian, and not in the way many public figures are — the sort who call on a vague heavenly figure when it’s politically advantageous. Consistently, Lee has been vocal about his Christian faith, has prayed publicly, and has attended church with many of his constituents.
I called my local abortion clinic. While family friends have lost 100 percent of their revenue for the time being, and many breadwinners in my church community are unsure how they’ll feed their families this month now that their work is deemed non-essential, abortion clinics are still open. The only change these facilities have made is to perform initial consultations over the phone rather than in person. During a pandemic, it’s still considered essential to end an unplanned pregnancy.
This is unacceptable for any governor, but it’s especially egregious for a Christian governor.
The very purpose of these state-wide shutdowns is to save lives by limiting person-to-person contact. The immediate economic results are undeniable. Every business across the nation has been kneecapped, and many have already gone under. It’s a tremendous cost to pay for life — but, we are told, it’s life.
So why are we continuing to end lives?
Tennessee state law requires any woman seeking an abortion to make two visits to the clinic. First for a consultation, then for the procedure. Many other states have similar rules. Even with an over-the-phone consultation, every abortion procedure exposes the woman getting the abortion, the guardian legally required to go with her, any nurses or receptionists in the facility, and the doctor performing the abortion to potential viral spread. No #socialdistancing here.
For this reason, among others, many medical procedures have been deemed non-essential. Patients with cancer who had treatments scheduled in March have had to postpone them unless they are “essential,” i.e., life-saving. But if essential means life-saving, shouldn’t abortion facilities have been among the first to be closed?
One of my sisters needs her wisdom teeth removed. The dental surgeon is not allowed to perform the surgery unless she is in extreme pain, so in the meantime she has to wear a hockey-grade mouthguard and deal with the discomfort, and he loses business. If she had an unwanted pregnancy, however, a medical professional is all too eager to consult with her over the phone, bring her into the clinic between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., and perform the procedure — for free.
Low-risk workers across the country are prohibited from working, yet thousands of unborn babies continue to be killed. All claims about saving lives by sweeping state action ring hollow in the face of this glaring contradiction.
Tennessee is not the only state turning a blind eye to this paradox. With the exception of Texas, every state continues to allow them to be performed during the coronavirus shutdowns. Just this week, the fifth circuit court in Texas upheld Gov. Gregg Abbott’s abortion ban during the pandemic, but no other governor has been so courageous.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly justified his authoritarian actions — and his decision to continue dragging the New York economy into historic lows — by appealing to the sanctity of human life. But what he actually preserves is the sanctity of some humans’ lives over others.
While Lee allows abortions to continue in the state of Tennessee, his conception of human life is no different than a pro-choice Democrat.
By keeping abortion clinics open in the coronavirus outbreak, our governors have assumed the power to decide which lives will be saved and which will not. Unborn children are excluded from the list.
Carmel Kookogey is a junior studying politics. She is a D.C. Correspondent for The Collegian.