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WASHINGTON — Today, Planned Parenthood Federation of America released the below statement in response to anti-abortion activists exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic. Anti-abortion activists sent a letter to Secretary Alex Azar urging the Department of Health and Human Services to restrict access to safe, legal abortion during the current pandemic. These types of actions are political distractions the American people cannot afford right now as the country scrambles to respond to a public health emergency.

Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

“A public health emergency is not the time to play politics. The safety and health of patients, our staff, and our communities must remain the highest priority as our country faces an unprecedented crisis. 

“Abortion is an essential and time-sensitive medical procedure, as confirmed by medical experts like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Delays or additional barriers to care can make it more difficult or even impossible for some patients to access safe, legal abortion. While we continue to provide critical care during this pandemic and work with our partner health care providers, we must still ensure that patients can access the services they need.

“Unfortunately, while public health providers are working together in our communities to be there for patients whose health care can’t wait, anti-abortion activists are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to push their ideological agenda. This is not the time for politicians or groups to advance their own agenda by taking advantage of a worldwide pandemic.” 

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Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.