In yet another welcome blow to states trying to gut abortion access under the guise of social distancing, a federal judge has temporarily blocked an order in Arkansas that would impose a near-total ban on abortion during the pandemic.
Arkansas, like a handful of states across country, issued an order declaring that due to social distancing measures, abortions “that can be safely postponed shall be rescheduled to an appropriate future date.” Though the order did allow for exceptions if the pregnancy were life-threatening, abortion is not something that can be “safely postponed,” as pregnancies do not simply pause to wait out a pandemic for an indeterminate period of time.
The ACLU challenged the order and won. CNN reports that federal judge Kristine Baker blocked it on the premise that the ACLU “are likely to prevail on their argument that the Challenged Provisions unconstitutionally restrict pre-viability abortions and, therefore, are facially unconstitutional.” Baker noted that medication abortion can only be administered within 10 weeks, nullifying that whole aforementioned “safely postponed” argument.
Other states that have attempted to use social distancing measures to ban abortions include Texas, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Alabama. Over the weekend, a U.S. District judge blocked Alabama’s ban, and though Texas’s ban appears to be heading to the Supreme Court, a federal appeals court ruled this week that medication abortions can continue for the duration of Texas’s stay-at-home order.