Judge rejects abortion clinic's bid to block virus test rule

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A federal judge on Thursday rejected a request by Arkansas' only surgical abortion clinic to block a rule requiring a negative coronavirus test before a woman undergoes the procedure.

U.S. District Judge Brian Miller rejected the motion to prevent the state from enforcing the requirement on three women nearing Arkansas' limit on when abortions can be performed. Arkansas bans abortions 20 weeks into a woman's pregnancy.

Little Rock Family Planning Services had been prohibited from performing abortions under a rule that banned elective procedures during the coronavirus pandemic. That ban has been eased, but the state requires a negative coronavirus test within 48 hours of the procedure.

The clinic said a lack of widespread testing meant the rule was preventing women from getting an abortion. The clinic said it had performed four abortions last week after the elective surgeries ban was lifted.

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In the lawsuit, the clinic said it contacted more than 15 testing locations but has been unable to find one that will test asymptomatic people and that's able to have results within 48 hours.

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