The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has set a 5 p.m.deadline Monday for those wishing to be heard on Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s request that it reinstate a ban on surgical abortion in Arkansas.
The state imposed the ban on April 10, interpreting surgical abortion — exception to save a life or major organ — an elective procedure and thus banned by executive order during the coronavirus crisis. The pretext for the ban: supposed use of personal protective gear and potential demand on hospital space. Little Family Planning Services, the only surgical abortion provider in Arkansas won a temporary restraining order from Judge Kristine Baker earlier this week.
Baker agreed that the clinic puts no demand on medical gear or hospitals and that the order amounted to an unconstitutional ban on a procedure that is the only form of abortion appropriate for some women. She also agreed that it amounted to an undue restriction on women given the numerous obstacles the state already places on abortion plus the demands of time on abortion against the state’s open-ended order.
Already, briefs are pouring in to support Rutledge. The right-wing Republican attorneys general she’s joined in a traveling posse to impose political ideology through courts around the country were an early arrival. Filing a brief in support are the states of Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Kentucky.
Also in the fight is the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative religious organization founded by Pat Robertson as an antidote to the ACLU and a base of Jay Sekulow, Trump’s lawyer.
Who knows, maybe if Gov. Asa Hutchinson follows through on opening up elective medical procedures before May 4 — a possibility he mentioned Friday — this particular legal, constitutional and medically necessary procedure will again be as legal as plastic surgery.