A federal judge in Arkansas has blocked the state from enforcing a ban on nonemergency abortions that was part of the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Arkansas Department of Health earlier this month had directed abortion facilities to suspend all procedures "not immediately necessary to protect the life or health of the patient" in an attempt to preserve personal protection equipment for medical personnel fighting the coronavirus.
U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker granted the temporary restraining order on Tuesday, saying that the plaintiff, an abortion clinic in Little Rock, is likely to win its argument that the ban is unconstitutional.
"With this order, the court has ensured that essential, time-sensitive health care can continue, and rebuffed Arkansas' attempts to restrict access to abortion," said Ruth Harlow, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Freedom Project, which is representing the clinic in Little Rock.
The ACLU argued that the order essentially prohibits most abortions before a baby can survive outside the womb, which contradicts a Supreme Court precedent set by Roe v. Wade.
? Judges in Alabama, Ohio, and Oklahoma have blocked similar bans.