LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas’ attorney general asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to allow the state to ban most surgical abortions during the coronavirus pandemic.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge asked the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to lift a judge’s order that allowed the state’s only surgical abortion clinic to continue performing the procedure. The state last week ordered the clinic, Little Rock Family Planning Services, to not perform surgical abortions unless they were needed to protect the life and health of the mother.
The state claimed the clinic was violating an order requiring health providers to reschedule any elective surgeries that could be safely postponed. Other states have tried to ban or restrict abortions during the pandemic using similar orders.
Rutledge’s filing said U.S. District Kristine Baker issued her order without allowing the state to respond, “declaring abortion a judicial sacred cow — untouchable even in an effort to save lives.”
“It clearly and indisputably erred,” her filing said.
The clinic has said it had 20 women scheduled for abortion this week who were not candidates for abortion-inducing medication that the facility is still allowed to administer under the state’s order.
“We are reviewing (the state’s filing) and will continue to fight to ensure abortion care remains accessible in Arkansas,” said Holly Dickson, interim executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, which represents the clinic.