CINCINNATI, OH—Today the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation filed a lawsuit on behalf of Preterm Cleveland and a number of other abortion providers in Ohio, challenging a law criminalizing abortions when one of the woman’s reasons for the abortion is a fetal diagnosis of Down syndrome. Governor Kasich signed House Bill 214 into law on December 22, 2017 and it is scheduled to take effect on March 23, 2018. The organizations contend that the ban violates the constitutionally protected right to abortion and opens the door for politicians to further intrude into the personal health decisions of women and families. The ban is just the latest attempt by Ohio lawmakers to make it impossible for a woman to obtain an abortion in Ohio.

“Banning a woman from having an abortion because of a fetal diagnosis is not only unconstitutional, it also does absolutely nothing to address discrimination against people with disabilities,” noted Freda Levenson, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio. “If Ohio politicians wanted to proactively take a stance for people with disabilities, they should improve access to health care, education, or other services. This ban is just a thinly-veiled attempt to criminalize abortion in Ohio. We are committed to work to ensure this unconstitutional law is never enforced,” concluded Levenson.

“When a woman has decided to end a pregnancy, she deserves care without judgment. This law would undermine the relationship between doctors and patients, making it harder for a woman to have an honest and informed conversation with her health care provider. Politicians should stop trying to prevent Ohio women from making thoughtful decisions about growing their families,” said Chrisse France, executive director for Preterm.

“Planned Parenthood provides high quality, compassionate reproductive and sexual health care, including safe and legal abortion. The patient-doctor relationship is critical; a woman should be able to trust her physicians and have confidential conversations without worrying about government interference.  The legislature should focus its attention on promoting strong communities and supporting women and their families, rather than interfering in complicated private medical decisions and finding ways to limit access to safe and legal abortion,” said Jerry Lawson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio.

The complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. Other plaintiffs in this case include Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio, Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, and the Women’s Medical Group Professional Corporation.


Read the full complaint and our motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction.