Jun 29, 2022 - Health

Abortion providers sue Ohio to challenge six-week ban

Picture of abortion rights protesters
An abortion rights rally on May 14 in Dayton, Ohio. Photo: Whitney Saleski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Abortion providers in Ohio filed a lawsuit Wednesday to challenge the state's six-week ban, which took effect shortly after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Driving the news: Ohio's six-week ban had been blocked since 2019, but it became active after a federal judge granted state officials' request to vacate a preliminary injunction following the high court's decision.

  • Without Roe, states have the authority to regulate abortion at any point in the pregnancy. As a result, providers have been suing states to stop bans from taking effect.

State of play: The lawsuit argues that the "fundamental right to abortion" is guaranteed in Ohio under the state constitution's "broad protections for individual liberties."

  • Before the six-week ban took effect, abortion in Ohio was allowed up until the 22nd week of pregnancy. The plaintiffs in the case say that the ban denies Ohioans their rights and the state court should declare the law "unconstitutional" as a result.

Details: S.B. 23 prohibits abortion after a fetus' cardiac activity has been detected, which is at around six weeks of pregnancy and before many people know they are pregnant.

  • The law allows abortion after that period only for reasons of a "medical emergency" or "medical necessity," which requires a physician to determine if the pregnant person has a medical condition that "necessitates the immediate performance or inducement of an abortion."
  • A provider who violates the law could be found guilty of a fifth degree felony, which is punishable in the state by up to a year in prison.

What they're saying: "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," said Freda Levenson, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio, which is a party in the case.

  • "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."

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