COLUMBUS, Ohio — The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of Ohio, and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit today challenging a law banning abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy. Gov. Mike DeWine was the third governor to sign this type of abortion ban into law this year. As of now, a total of four governors have signed six-week bans into law in 2019.
The legal challenge seeks immediate relief to prevent the law from taking effect on July 10. Ohio is one of twelve other states that have considered similar legislation so far this year. A court has already blocked a nearly identical measure in Kentucky. Abortion providers have sued in Mississippi and have announced their intent to sue in Georgia in the coming months. None of the bans are in effect. Abortion is still legal in all 50 states.
“This assault on reproductive rights has been anticipated, and we’ve been preparing and perfecting our case. ‘Total ban’ is not inflammatory rhetoric — this is a ban on almost all abortions, and if the court does not block it, it will imperil the freedoms and health of Ohio women,” said Freda Levenson, Legal Director of the ACLU of Ohio. “The law of the land has been crystal clear for nearly 50 years: women have a categorical right to a pre-viability abortion.”
“Make no mistake, unless blocked by the court, this law would ban approximately 90 percent of abortions in Ohio, which would disproportionately affect people of color, people struggling financially, and young people,” said Elizabeth Watson, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “For over 40 years, Roe v. Wade has ensured that every person in Ohio and across the country can make the deeply personal decision about whether to become parents or grow their family without shame, obstacles, or stigma. Let this be a warning to the anti-abortion politicians in Ohio and across the country — if you attack our right to abortion, we will always be here to defend it.”
“This unconscionable abortion ban is denying every woman and person that seeks out abortion care the empathy, compassion, safety, and respect they deserve,” said Chrisse France, the Executive Director of Preterm-Cleveland. “With our friends at the ACLU, we are taking on this immoral, dangerous ban – we are committed to fighting to keep abortion legal, accessible, and free of shame and stigma.”
“This near-total ban on abortion is part of the constant barrage of restrictions and unnecessary policing of women’s bodies from lawmakers that will have the most damaging impact on Ohio communities that are medically underserved, in rural areas, and those that have historically been marginalized,” said Iris E. Harvey, CEO and president of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio. “Planned Parenthood will be unwavering in our fight to protect access to affordable reproductive health care that includes safe, legal abortion.”
“At six weeks, most people don’t even know they’re pregnant,” said Kersha Deibel, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region. “We’re challenging this law because it would take away a person’s right to make their own medical decisions before they even know they have a decision to make. When politicians attack health care, they disproportionately impact people of color, women, the LGBTQ community and young people and 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.”
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 14 to 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.
The complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.
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.