Judge blocks Ohio’s six-week abortion ban for 14 days

FILE – Protesters rally at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio, in support of abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade on June 24, 2022. A judge temporarily blocked Ohio’s ban on virtually all abortions, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022, again pausing a law that took effect after federal abortion protections were overturned by the Supreme Court in June. (Barbara J. Perenic /The Columbus Dispatch via AP, File)

A judge on Wednesday temporarily paused Ohio’s six-week abortion ban that went into effect after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.

Hamilton County Judge Christian Jenkins issued a temporary restraining order that will stop the law’s implementation for 14 days, with pro-abortion activists now asking the judge to issue a preliminary injunction that would further block the law for the duration of the case.

Jenkins granted the pause in part because he believes the plaintiffs have a substantially likely chance of winning the case under protections granted by the state’s constitution.

“No great stretch is required to find that Ohio law recognizes a fundamental right to privacy, procreation, bodily integrity and freedom of choice in health care decision making,” Jenkins wrote in the ruling.

The legislation, known as the “Heartbeat Law” and signed by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) in 2019, bans abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, generally at the sixth week of pregnancy. The law was blocked until the Supreme Court struck down federal abortion protections in June.

The judge on Wednesday ruled the law violates a clause in the state constitution that prohibits laws that penalize the sale or purchase of health care.

Jenkins ruled that abortion falls under the constitution’s definition of health care. He also ruled the law discriminates against pregnant women, violating a separate equal protection clause in the state constitution.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Ohio, Planned Parenthood and the law firm WilmerHale filed the lawsuit earlier this month.

“We’re grateful that, for now, Ohioans can once again widely access abortion care in their own state. But this is just the first step,” the ACLU and the other abortion rights groups said in a statement. 

“We have already seen the devastating impact Senate Bill 23 has had on people seeking abortions in Ohio,” the statement continued. “State lawmakers will stop at nothing to try again to permanently restrict our reproductive rights; their cruelty knows no bounds.” 

The law gained national attention after a 10-year-old girl who was just over six weeks pregnant was denied an abortion in the state days after the law went into effect, leading her to travel across state lines for the procedure.

The case became a focal point as many states moved to implement abortion restrictions in the wake of the court’s ruling.

Beyond the state level, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced a bill on Tuesday that would ban abortion nationwide at 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Tags abortion ACLU ACLU of Ohio Christian Jenkins Gov. Mike DeWine Heartbeat Law Mike DeWine Ohio Planned Parenthood Roe v. Wade WilmerHale

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