Governor rescinds ban on elective medical procedures, including abortion

    Starting on May 4, clinics that provide non-emergency, elective surgeries can resume operations in Alaska, this includes elective abortions.

    On April 7, Gov. Mike Dunleavy put a temporary halt to all elective surgeries and procedures in order to build up critical medical supplies, especially personal protective gear, for doctors and nurses working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    During an April 15 press conference, Dunleavy said the temporary ban was no longer required as the state has effectively stockpiled needed medical gear like facemasks and gowns.

    Starting April 20, health care providers that use minimal protective equipment, such as chiropractors and sports therapists will be able to see patients. On May 4, health care services that cannot be delayed beyond eight weeks without posing “a significant risk to quality of life” may resume. This includes elective abortions, along with cancer treatments, dental work and other procedures.

    Dunleavy’s April 7 decision to temporarily ban elective abortions drew condemnation from Planned Parenthood and praise from the pro-life community, including an online petition thanking him for not giving abortionists special treatment while legitimate health providers were closed.

    Dunleavy did not mention abortion during his April 15 press conference, but Communication Director Jeff Turner confirmed that elective abortions will no longer be banned as of May 4.

    Dunleavy cautioned, however, that the state could implement bans on certain procedures or facilities in the future if they lead to a significant spread of COVID-19.

    “If we see a spike, we will have a conversation with a particular clinic or particular business,” he said.

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