Preterm-Cleveland et al. v. Himes et al.
Case Dates:Thursday, 15 February, 2018 - ongoing
On December 13, 2017, the Ohio General Assembly passed H.B. 214, referred to by its proponents as the “Down Syndrome Abortion Bill” (“HB 214” or the “Bill”). Governor Kasich signed the Bill on December 22, 2017. The Bill was set to take effect on March 23, 2018.
The Bill makes it a fourth degree felony for any person to perform or attempt to perform an abortion, if that person has knowledge that either (a) the woman is seeking the abortion in whole or in part due to a test result or prenatal diagnosis of fetal Down syndrome, or (b) the person performing or attempting to perform the abortion herself has any other reason to believe that the fetus has Down syndrome. A physician who violates HB 214 is also subject to license revocation by the state medical board and to a civil suit by “any person” who sustains injury, death, or loss as a result of the abortion or attempted abortion. The Bill requires the attending physician to state in his or her abortion report that the physician does not have knowledge that the woman sought the abortion because of a test or prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, and has no other reason to believe that the fetus has Down syndrome. The Bill contains no exception allowing the abortion to be performed when it is necessary to preserve the health or life of the woman.
The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly and unequivocally held that, under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, a state may not ban abortion prior to viability of the fetus.
On February 15, 2018, we filed a Complaint and Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Western Division. The ACLU of Ohio represents Plaintiff Preterm-Cleveland. Additional plaintiffs represented by co-counsel are Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region, Women’s Med Group Professional Corporation, Dr. Roslyn Kade, and Planned Parenthood Greater Ohio. Defendants are the Ohio Department of Health Acting Director Lance Himes, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley, Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck, Jr., Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien, Ohio State Medical Board Secretary Dr. Kim Rothermel and Supervising Member Bruce Saferin.
On February 16 the Court held a telephonic status conference to set the briefing schedule on the Motion for TRO or Preliminary Injunction. Defendants filed their response on March 2 and we filed our reply on March 9. The Court had tentatively set oral argument for March 12 but determined argument was not needed. On March 14, the Court issued an order granting our motion for a preliminary injunction, blocking the implementation of the law as litigation proceeds.
On April 11 Defendants filed their Answer and their Notice of Appeal of the preliminary injunction to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. On April 30 we filed a Motion for Attorneys’ Fees and Costs for our work during the preliminary injunction phase of litigation. Defendants’ filed their appellate brief on June 22. On June 29 the American Center for Law and Justice filed an amicus brief in support of Defendants, as did 16 states. On August 22 we filed our response brief. Four amicus briefs were filed in support of our position: one by 21 Ohio state legislators; one by seven parents of children with Down syndrome; one by several biomedical ethicists; and one by the Attorney Generals of 17 states. Defendants’ reply was filed September 19. On December 14 the Court scheduled oral arguments to take place on January 30, 2019.