Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Apr 22, 2020 / 14:30 pm America/Denver (CNA).
A federal appeals court on Wednesday allowed a state order halting elective surgical abortions in Arkansas to go into effect. The measure was put in place to conserve medical resources during the coronavirus pandemic.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit decided 2-1 in favor of Arkansas on Wednesday, which had appealed a lower court’s decision to halt the order. On April 14, a federal district court put a temporary restraining order on the state’s act to stop non-medically necessary surgical abortions during the public health emergency caused by COVID-19.
The state’s health department on April 3 had declared a halt to non-essential surgeries during the pandemic, and surgical abortions not deemed medically necessary by a doctor were included under the order. The Arkansas health department has reported 2,276 cases of COVID-19, as of Wednesday afternoon.
On April 9, health department inspectors arrived at Little Rock Family Planning Services (LRFP) unannounced, and found that the clinic was still providing surgical abortions. The next day, the health department sent the clinic a cease-and-desist letter ordering a stop to surgical abortions “except where immediately necessary to protect the life or health of the patient.”
The Diocese of Little Rock’s Respect Life Office told CNA on April 16 of a “particularly troubling” increase in abortions at the clinic, especially by women traveling from neighboring Texas and Louisiana, states which have halted elective abortions.