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Rutledge’s Defense of Elective Surgery Directive Protects Public During COVID-19 Pandemic

Says, ‘no exemptions for surgical abortions during this pandemic’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued a statement following the U.S. District Court Judge Brian Miller’s denial of abortion provider Little Rock Family Planning’s latest request for a temporary restraining order. The Arkansas Department of Health issued a directive on April 27, 2020, permitting elective surgeries, including surgical abortions, upon satisfaction of COVID-19 related precautions. The directive requires that all patients test negative for COVID-19 within 48 hours prior to any elective procedure.

“Today’s decision ensures that there are no exemptions for surgical abortions during this pandemic,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansas’s reasonable directive sets standards to protect the health and safety of patients, healthcare professionals, and the public during the COVID-19 emergency.”

The April 27 directive superseded ADH’s previous April 3, 2020 elective-surgery moratorium. Little Rock Family Planning had previously obtained a temporary restraining order from U.S. District Court Judge Kristine Baker against that April 3 moratorium. Attorney General Rutledge immediately appealed Judge Baker’s order, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed Judge Baker’s temporary restraining order and allowed the April 3 moratorium to go into effect.

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