September 26, 2017

COLUMBUS— Today the ACLU of Ohio will present arguments before the Ohio Supreme Court asserting that its client, Preterm, has standing to challenge anti-abortion amendments that were unconstitutionally inserted into the 2013-2014 state budget bill. Preterm-Cleveland Inc., v. Kasich was filed in 2013. The trial court ruled that Preterm did not have standing to bring the lawsuit, but that decision was overruled by the Eighth District Court of Appeals in 2016.  The State appealed that decision to the Ohio Supreme Court.

“As a critical abortion provider in Northeast Ohio, Preterm has an unquestionable interest in the abortion restrictions the General Assembly enacted as a part of the 2013 state budget bill,” said Jessie Hill, volunteer attorney for the ACLU of Ohio.

“The 3 amendments that aim to restrict access to reproductive health services must be struck from the current law, as they were log-rolled onto an unrelated bill in violation of our constitution’s single-subject rule,” continued Hill. “The anti-abortion amendments were tucked into the 3,000 page budget bill at the last minute, behind closed doors, and without public comment. This lawsuit is as much about a fair and constitutional legislative process as it is about reproductive justice.”

As a result of one of these provisions, Preterm now faces criminal liability if it fails to present patients with evidence of a fetal heartbeat prior to the abortion. Another provision prohibits Preterm-Cleveland Inc., from contracting with public hospitals, which leaves the clinic with limited options if its current contract with a private hospital was terminated.  “Since the bill was passed in 2013, and the lawsuit has been pending for four years, Preterm has had to modify policies and procedures so that Preterm and its staff can avoid violating the new law,” added Hill.

“Politicians cannot sidestep the rules in order to fulfill their anti-choice agenda--it’s not how democracy works,” said Hill. “The abortion debate will continue past this lawsuit, but allowing the legislature to violate our state constitution in order to get what they want ultimately hurts us all,” concluded Hill.