The Corner

Law & the Courts

ACLU Sues to Stop Arkansas from Requiring COVID-19 Tests before Abortion Procedures

Nurse Tina Nguyen administers a nasal swab at a coronavirus testing site in Seattle, Wash., March 26, 2020. (Lindsey Wasson/Reuters)

The latest effort from abortion providers to stop states from restricting abortion during the COVID-19 outbreak is an especially troubling one: In Arkansas, the American Civil Liberties Union and the state’s lone abortion clinic have sued to block a policy that would require women to obtain a negative coronavirus test before getting an abortion.

“Delaying abortion care across the board for a COVID-19 test is especially unwarranted in view of Arkansas’s otherwise permissive approach to letting individuals mix and mingle in restaurants and gyms without negative COVID tests,” the lawsuit states. It also notes that “women who cannot obtain access” to a COVID-19 test are “entirely barred . . . from exercising their constitutional right to receive pre-viability abortion care in Arkansas.”

The previous week, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals had upheld the Arkansas policy that included elective abortions among the non-essential procedures that the state limited during the COVID-19 response in order to prevent the spread of disease and conserve medical equipment.

This lawsuit is a new low for abortion-rights advocates, who now have spent the last two months consistently taking state officials to court for including abortion among the many procedures restricted during the outbreak. Not only do abortion providers — who claim to be offering health care to women — apparently believe that they ought to be exempted from the regulations applied to health-care professionals, but they also appear willing to risk contributing to the spread of a potentially fatal disease simply to continue profiting from abortions.

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