© 2022 WKSU
Public Radio News for Northeast Ohio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Ohio abortion providers file lawsuit to block new six-week abortion ban

Protesters gather at the Ohio Statehouse to express their frustration at the abolishment of Roe V Wade today.
Daniel Konik
Statehouse News Bureau
Protesters gather at the Ohio Statehouse to express their frustration at the abolishment of Roe V Wade today.

A lawsuit has been filed with the Ohio Supreme Court to block the state's ban on abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Ohio, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the law firm WilmerHale filed the court challenge Wednesday morning, seeking to block the ban on abortion, that went into effect Friday.

A federal judge granted the state’s request to allow the previously blocked law to take effect. The law had been put on hold because it violated the constitutional protection provided by Roe v. Wade but after the U.S. Supreme Court's decision Friday morning in Dobbs v. Jackson, the state argued there was no reason for a hold on the law.

The new law, SB23, restricts access to abortion in Ohio by lowering the gestational age limit from 22 weeks to approximately six weeks, with very limited exceptions.

It doesn't impose penalties on the woman seeking an abortion, but a doctor who performs an abortion once "fetal activity" can be detected could be charged with a fifth-degree felony.

Clinics that perform abortions throughout the state canceled nearly all abortions Friday after the new state law was put in place. Those same clinics are now parties in this lawsuit.

“This sweeping measure, which prevents nearly every pregnant person from accessing essential care, is blatantly unconstitutional under Ohio’s state constitution which has broad protections for individual liberties. We ask the Ohio Supreme Court to stop enforcement of Senate Bill 23. Absent action from the court, many Ohioans will be forced to give birth against their will, many will have illegal or dangerous abortions, and some will die," said Freda Levenson, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio.

Levenson added that people of color and low-income communities — who make up the majority of patients seeking abortions — will be disproportionately impacted by the new ban.

Since Friday, some Ohioans seeking abortions have had to travel out-of-state to get those services. The lawsuit contends the need to travel out-of-state deprives many low-income and minority pregnant people from being able to get the same medical care as wealthier or white pregnant people.

The plaintiffs are asking the Ohio Supreme Court to order state officials not to enforce SB23 and to declare the ban unconstitutional.

Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis said the Ohio Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction in mandamus cases "where there is an adequate remedy at law through a declaratory judgement and injunction action in a common pleas court—wholly apart from the meritless nature of the Complaint." He also said he thinks the plaintiffs in this case believe there is a "pro-abortion majority" that likely will be lost this November and that's why they haven't filed in a Common Pleas Court instead.
Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment. Jo started her career in Louisville, Kentucky in the mid 80’s when she helped produce a televised presidential debate for ABC News, worked for a creative services company and served as a general assignment report for a commercial radio station. In 1989, she returned back to her native Ohio to work at the WOSU Stations in Columbus where she began a long resume in public radio.