July 3, 2019

CINCINNATI — A federal judge temporarily blocked an Ohio law today 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 the lawsuit on behalf of Preterm-Cleveland and other abortion clinics in the state. Senate Bill 23 was signed by Governor DeWine and was scheduled to take effect this month.

Ohio is one of more than seven states that have considered similar legislation so far this year. In addition to Ohio, the ACLU has challenged similar abortion bans in Kentucky and Georgia, a near total ban in Alabama, and an 18-week ban in Arkansas, among other litigation. Courts have already blocked nearly identical measures in Kentucky and Mississippi. None of the bans are in effect, and abortion remains legal in all 50 states.

Elizabeth Watson, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, said: “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.”

“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,” said Freda Levenson, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio. “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.”

For years, politicians in Ohio have passed legislation intended to ban abortion care. The ACLU and Planned Parenthood are also 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. 

“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,” added Chrisse France, Executive Director of Preterm-Cleveland. “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.”

“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,” said Iris E. Harvey, CEO and President of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio. “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.”

Preterm-Cleveland is represented by the ACLU and ACLU of Ohio; Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region and 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.

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