Court allows Arkansas to ban most surgical abortions during coronavirus pandemic

LITTLE ROCK, Ark — A federal appeals court on Wednesday, April 22 allowed Arkansas to ban most surgical abortions during the coronavirus pandemic.

A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dissolved U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker’s temporary restraining order that allowed surgical abortions to continue after the Arkansas Department of Health told the state’s only surgical abortion clinic to stop performing  the procedure unless it was needed to protect the life or health of the mother.

The appeals court’s ruling said the Health Department’s “directive is a legally valid response to the circumstances confronted by the Governor and state health official.”

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“This is a very good decision,” Family Council President Jerry Cox said in a statement. “It is irresponsible to let abortionists keep performing surgical abortions at a time when other doctors and surgeons have been forced to postpone their operations.”

Cox said restricting surgical abortions will help slow the spread of coronavirus. 

“Elective surgical abortions waste precious medical resources, and we have ample evidence that women from neighboring states, including COVID-19 hotspots, have been coming to Arkansas for abortions. If we want to slow the spread of coronavirus, we need to put a stop to surgical abortions for the time being.”

The state said Little Rock Family Planning Services violated an order requiring health providers to reschedule elective procedures that could be safely postponed. Other states have used similar orders to restrict abortions during the pandemic.

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