ST. PAUL -- Minnesotans will still be able to access reproductive medicine, including abortion services, during Gov. Tim Walz's shelter-in-place order during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Walz on Wednesday, March 25, ordered that Minnesotans stay in place, only leaving home for necessary travel and physical exercise, in an attempt to slow down the spread of COVID-19, a respiratory illness caused by coronavirus.

In a March 20 executive order, Walz ordered non-essential or elective surgeries to be postponed until he lifts his peacetime emergency declaration. Anti-abortion rights group Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life in a Wednesday news release argued that abortions should be considered elective procedures, and should thus be halted.

“Planned Parenthood and other abortion facilities continue to use much-needed medical resources for their own elective abortions rather than to help meet the needs of those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach said in Wednesday's release. “Abortion centers should follow the same rules as everyone else."

A litany of anti-abortion rights groups have made the same argument to federal officials: 52 group leaders, including Minnesota Family Council Chief Executive Officer John Helmberger, signed a Tuesday letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services arguing that by continuing to offer abortions, providers are "deplet(ing) sorely needed personal protective equipment."

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In a Wednesday tweet, pro-abortion rights group Unrestrict Minnesota tweeted, "No one should be politicizing #COVID19 in order to push their anti-abortion agenda. Abortion is essential health care, and people need access to care."

According to Walz's Wednesday stay-at-home executive order, reproductive services are considered a "critical sector," set to remain open during the peacetime emergency.

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