Judge Rejects Abortionists’ Lawsuit Against State

Last week ACLU attorneys representing abortionists in Little Rock filed a legal challenge against the State of Arkansas over health directives that require women to test negative for COVID-19 within 48 hours before having a surgical abortion.

On Thursday U.S. District Judge Brian Miller rejected the ACLU’s motion against the state.

This is a big win for Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and her team.

As we have said before, the State of Arkansas is requiring everyone to test negative for COVID-19 before having an elective surgery.

This is a general rule that applies to all elective surgeries — including surgical abortions.

But abortionists have kept trying to get the courts to carve out special exemptions just for them.

At a time when other doctors and facilities are abiding by state rules to help fight COVID-19, it’s very telling that abortionists still want special treatment.

Fortunately, Judge Miller has recognized that abortionists need to follow the same rules as everybody else during a pandemic like the current one.

That’s a very good thing.

Here’s a quick recap of everything that has led up to this point:

  • On March 30, Governor Hutchinson issued guidelines telling all medical clinics to postpone elective procedures, but abortion providers did not comply.
  • On April 3, Governor Hutchinson and Secretary of Health Dr. Nathaniel Smith issued a directive, with the force of law, specifically naming abortion providers. Again, abortionists kept performing surgical abortions.
  • On April 7, inspectors from the State of Arkansas found proof that elective surgical abortions were taking place despite the state’s directives and guidelines.
  • On Friday, April 10, Little Rock Family Planning Services — Arkansas’ only surgical abortion clinic — received a “cease and desist” letter and was told to stop performing surgical abortions or face penalties from the state.
  • Abortionists filed a legal challenge on April 13.
  • On April 14, U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker issued a restraining order against the state.
  • On April 15, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s office asked the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn Judge Baker’s restraining order.
  • On April 22, a three-judge panel from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated Judge Baker’s temporary restraining order, thereby letting the state restrict surgical abortions.
  • On April 27, the State of Arkansas rolled out new directives permitting elective outpatient surgical procedures if the patient tests negative for COVID-19 within 48 hours of the procedure.
  • On Friday, May 1, the ACLU renewed its legal challenge against the state, arguing that it is unreasonable to require a woman to test negative for COVID-19 before having a surgical abortion.
  • On Thursday, May 7, U.S. District Judge Brian Miller rejected the ACLU’s renewed legal challenge.

State Releases New COVID-19 Guidance for Churches

Unlike other states, Arkansas has never shut down places of worship during the COVID-19 outbreak.

However, the state has issued guidance to help ensure church meetings do not spread the coronavirus.

On Monday the Arkansas Department of Health issued updated guidance for churches and nonprofit organizations.

According to the state’s guidelines, churches are strongly encouraged to continue meeting online rather than in-person.

However, churches who meet in-person during this time must:

  • Discourage churchgoers from attending meetings if they have fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other COVID-19 symptoms, or if they have been exposed to the virus.
  • Advise people 65 or older or who have other underlying health conditions that they may not want to attend services
  • Inform people that no one will be admitted without a face mask

Churches must provide hand sanitizer stations at all public entrances.

Congregants must maintain strict social distancing indoors and outdoors.

Meet and greet times should be outdoors, if possible; church refreshments should be outdoors only, as well.

According to the guidelines, churches also should refrain from having altar calls, passing items among churchgoers, and conducting childcare or Sunday school classes.

You can find the full guidelines for churches here.

If the Arkansas Department of Health’s website fails to properly load the guidelines, you can find a copy of the guidelines on Google’s server here.

You can find additional information for churches from the Health Department here.