CINCINNATI- Today a federal judge temporarily blocked an Ohio law that would have banned abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy, before most women know they are pregnant. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Ohio, and Planned Parenthood brought this lawsuit on behalf of Preterm-Cleveland and other abortion clinics in the state. Senate Bill 23 was signed by Governor DeWine on April 11, 2019, and was scheduled to take effect on this month.
Ohio is one of twelve other states that have considered similar legislation so far this year. Courts have already blocked nearly identical measures in Kentucky and Mississippi. Abortion providers have also sued in Alabama and Georgia. None of the bans are in effect. Abortion is still legal in all 50 states.
“Today the Court has upheld the clear law: women in Ohio (and across the nation) have the constitutional right to make this deeply personal decision about their own bodies without interference from the State. This would ban nearly all abortions by preventing people from obtaining care at about 6 weeks - a time when many women do not even realize they may be pregnant. Abortion bans like this one have been blocked across the country by numerous courts,” said Freda Levenson, Legal Director for the ACLU of Ohio.
“Let this victory for Ohio women stand as a reminder that these attacks on abortion access are illegal. We will continue to work within the courts to hold anti-abortion state legislators accountable as long as they abuse their power to push abortion out of reach,” said Elizabeth Watson, Staff Attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.
“Today’s ruling keeps abortion legal for all Ohioans, but we know the fight does not stop there. Ohioans deserve access to abortion that is safe, affordable, and without shame or judgment. We will continue to fight for all women and people who can become pregnant to have access to abortion care, to make the decisions they believe are best for their lives, and to build communities where each of us can participate with dignity and respect,” added Chrisse France, Executive Director of Preterm-Cleveland.
“While we are pleased with the court’s most recent decisions to protect Ohioans’ right to bodily autonomy, we know that access to the full slate of reproductive health care, including safe and legal abortion is still in jeopardy. As the future of reproductive freedom hangs in the balance of the courts, Planned Parenthood will continue to proudly serve patients throughout Ohio with the affordable, reliable, and high quality health care they need and deserve – especially in communities where people are underserved, low-income, and historically marginalized,” added Iris E. Harvey, CEO and President of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio.
“We’re pleased that the court saw through this blatant attempt to cut Ohioans off from access to reproductive health care and ban safe, legal abortion in the state. At six weeks, most people don’t even know they’re pregnant. This law would effectively take away a person’s right to make their own medical decisions before they even know there’s a decision to make. When politicians attack health care, they disproportionately impact people of color, women, the LGBTQ community and young people. Access to health care should not depend on who you are, where you live, or how much money you make. Politicians have no right to dictate personal medical decisions and we will not stand for it," added Kersha Deibel, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio.
For years, politicians in Ohio have passed legislation intended to ban abortion care. The ACLU and Planned Parenthood are currently challenging a separate law that criminalizes abortion when one of a woman’s reasons for an abortion is a fetal diagnosis of Down syndrome. Planned Parenthood and Women’s Med Center of Dayton are challenging an abortion ban prohibiting physicians from providing dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedures, the standard method for abortion care after about 15 weeks of pregnancy. The Women’s Med Center and Planned Parenthood also are seeking to invalidate a state law that requires surgical abortion providers to secure a medically unnecessary written transfer agreement with a local hospital.
Preterm-Cleveland is represented by the ACLU and ACLU of Ohio; Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region, Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, are represented by Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Gerhardstein & Branch; Women’s Med Corp Professional Group and Capital Care Network of Toledo are represented by Gerhardstein & Branch.