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Tue Jun 23, 2020, 05:40 PM

The Inside Story Of How Arkansas Exploited COVID To Stop Abortions

On the first day of April, Marsha Boss, a 68-year-old Catholic pharmacist, uploaded a photo to Facebook. Snapped on a sunny day, it showed the parking lot outside Little Rock Family Planning Services, one of two abortion clinics left in Arkansas. “We watched three cars from Texas come in, three from Tennessee and one from Alabama all coming to our great state to get an abortion,” she wrote in her post. “How sad is that?”

In private, around the same time, Boss was extending her disapproval to state health officials. Over text messages and in phone calls, she complained that the clinic was violating social distancing guidelines, performing “25 to 30” abortions a day, and warned that out-of-town patients ― many of whom were fleeing abortion bans their states put in place after coronavirus hit ― might spread the infectious disease in Arkansas. She also said she saw someone carrying coveted surgical masks into the clinic, as well as beer.

“The abortion clinic think[s] they are above the laws and certainly above any rules but Now we have Covid 19,” she texted Laura Shue, general counsel of the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH). “I know you are busy Laura and I hate to bother you with all of this but I do think it’s so important.”

Long before coronavirus made its way to Arkansas, Boss was a vigilant observer of the Little Rock clinic, keeping close tabs on its activity. Since 2008, she had organized anti-abortion protests at the clinic, rallying church members to participate in 40 Days for Life campaigns as well as recruiting volunteers to pray outside its doors year-round. Unlike the radical evangelical protesters who carried grisly, blown-up photos of fetuses and called women murderers, her crew had a softer touch, favoring silent prayer and signs like “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” Still, she often intercepted patients as they pulled into the driveway, handing them literature through their car window and imploring them to turn around, according to the clinic security guard, Guy Hooper, who spoke to HuffPost in a phone interview. Sometimes she’d wear a white lab coat or scrubs, Hooper said, perhaps a nod to her pharmacy degree. But since she was not an employee of the clinic, the uniform had the potential to confuse arriving patients. On her LinkedIn page, she describes her profession as an “Ongoing Prayer Warrior at God.”



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