A federal appeals court has overturned a judge’s ruling and allowed the state of Arkansas to ban abortions under an order to stop medically unnecessary procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Arkansas is one of several states that included elective abortions in its restrictions on non-essential medical procedures during the pandemic. Earlier this spring, the state Department of Health ordered a halt to procedures “that can be safely postponed” except for instances to prevent the death, permanent physical damage or disease advancement of a patient. State leaders included the killing of unborn babies in abortions in their order.
However, the Little Rock Family Planning Services abortion facility and the American Civil Liberties Union sued the state.
Previously, U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker, an Obama appointee who has a steady history of siding with the abortion industry, ruled against Arkansas health officials’ efforts to stop the spread of the virus by restricting abortions.
But today, a three-judge panel from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals decided to let the State of Arkansas restrict surgical abortions while a lawsuit against the state progresses. The ruling removes a restraining order U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker in Little Rock had imposed on the state.
Family Council President Jerry Cox applauded the decision and told LifeNews.com, “This is a very good decision. 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. Why should abortion clinics be open for business as usual when so many other clinics are closed?”
Cox said it is only fair to make abortionists play by the same rules as other health clinics.
“Abortion providers have said for years that abortion is just like any other procedure. Now they are saying that abortion is different. They want it both ways. Abortion clinics should have to operate by the same health and safety rules as everyone else during the pandemic,” he said.
The pro-life advocate 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.”
Cox pointed out that the state’s directive concerning abortion is very specific. “This is a public health directive that applies to all elective surgeries, including surgical abortions. It does not apply to abortions performed using abortion drugs like RU-486. It does not apply to surgical abortions performed to save the life of the mother. It doesn’t stop abortion facilities from offering other healthcare services besides abortion. Arkansas’ health directive is very reasonable.”
Cox applauded the state’s leaders for addressing elective surgical abortions during the COVID-19 outbreak. “This is the right thing to do, if we want to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Governor Hutchinson and Secretary of Health Dr. Nathaniel Smith have done an excellent job issuing these health directives. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has done a phenomenal job enforcing and defending the directives, and I am confident her team will win future pro-life victories in federal court as this legal battle continues.”
Arkansas Online reported that Judge Baker’s ruling claimed the abortion facility would be “irreparably harmed” if the state enforces the restriction. She said the abortion groups likely will win in court based on their claim that the pandemic order unconstitutionally restricts abortions prior to viability.
The Department of Health order also “will inflict serious physical, emotional and psychological injuries on patients by forcing them to delay, or altogether forgo, access to abortion care,” Baker wrote.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s office quickly slammed the ruling and promised to “take immediate steps to see this decision is reversed,” CNN reported.
“Rutledge is extremely disappointed in today’s decision,” spokeswoman Amanda Priest said. The ruling “blatantly disregard[s] good public health guidelines and temporarily halt[s] the Health Department’s directive without allowing the State to be heard.”
Meanwhile, abortion activists celebrated the ruling.
“With this order, the court has ensured essential, time-sensitive health care can continue, and rebuffed Arkansas’ attempts to restrict access to abortion,” said Ruth Harlow, an attorney at the ACLU.
Her pro-abortion group argued that “the state allows other medical providers to exercise their independent professional judgment and provide care to patients that cannot be safely postponed, including orthodontists who are permitted to schedule visits to adjust wires on patients’ braces, and dentists who can see patients for a cracked tooth.”
However, abortions are different from all other medical procedures because they destroy lives, rather than save them.
Recently, medical groups representing more than 30,000 doctors in America emphasized that abortions are not “essential” or “urgent,” and abortion facilities that continue to operate during the pandemic are being “medically irresponsible.” Common abortion complications include infections, blood clots, hemorrhaging and an incomplete abortion. Abortion risks include future preterm births, breast cancer, suicide, anxiety/depression, and death. And it is not true that abortions are safer than childbirth.
Although the situation is fluid, here are the latest reports from LifeNews.com on the status of abortion and orders to stop non-essential medical services:
States Attempting to Protect Babies From Abortion
Texas: Abortion centers are temporarily closed after Governor Greg Abbott’s order. But Texas abortion businesses have sued the state to reopen. Planned Parenthood has filed a lawsuit as well to do abortions and ignore the order. A federal judge blocked the order and allowed abortion centers to keep killing babies but a federal appeals court reinstated the order. Now Planned Parenthood is asking the Supreme Court to allow killing babies in non-essential abortions. The 5th Circuit then ruled that surgical abortions, but not the abortion pill, can be banned.
Ohio: Abortion centers are included in the order to close but they are refusing to close. The health department is now investigating those violations. Meanwhile, a judge has blocked the state’s order banning abortions.
Oklahoma: Oklahoma Gov Orders Abortion Businesses to Close, Killing Babies is Not “Essential” Medical Care. The Planned Parenthood abortion business has sued to keep doing abortions and a federal appeals court allowed abortions to continue.
Indiana: Governor Bans Killing Babies in Abortions to Save Medical Resources to Fight Coronavirus. At least one abortion business is refusing to comply.
Alabama: Alabama stopped abortions under its non-essential order until April 13th but a judge ruled the state can’t infringe on the so-called “right” to abortion. The judge also ruled that killing babies is somehow “essential” if abortion centers think so. Alabama is appealing the decision.
States Not Protecting Babies From Abortion
Kansas: Abortions are allowed in Kansas but a county in Wichita voted to close the late-term abortion clinic there.
New York: New York has issued an order to stop non-essential health services but is not applying it to abortion centers. New York Attorney General: Coronavirus Crisis is No Reason to Stop Killing Babies in Abortions. NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio has threatened to permanently close churches while letting abortion centers stay open.
New Jersey: Shut down non-essential health care but abortion centers are excluded.
Michigan: Governor Whitmer has stopped non-essential medical surgeries but allowed abortion clinics to keep killing babies. Leading pro-life groups have heavily criticized her.
North Carolina: Pro-life groups have called on the governor to stop abortions during the coronavirus crisis.
Washington: Shut down non-essential health care but abortion centers are excluded.
California: Shut down non-essential health care but abortion centers are excluded. But 11 Planned Parenthood abortion centers have voluntarily closed.
Maine: Shut down non-essential health care but abortion centers are excluded.
Massachusetts: Shut down non-essential health care but abortion centers are excluded.
Canada has banned every other non-essential medical procedure except abortion