Jun 28, 2022 - Politics

City attorney: I'm not enforcing Ohio's abortion ban

Illustration of a gavel coming down on a hospital.
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Columbus and other major cities in Ohio are pledging not to enforce the state's strict abortion law enacted after Roe v. Wade was overturned.

Why it matters: Democrats, outnumbered in statewide government, have little power to stop these laws, but they can wield power in cities under their control.

State of play: The new law criminalizes doctors who perform abortions after fetal cardiac activity is detected, or at around six weeks of pregnancy.

  • This "Heartbeat Bill" offers no exception for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, but does for those conducted to save the life of the mother.
  • Columbus has one abortion clinic and another that provides medication abortion services, according to Pro-Choice Ohio.

What's happening: City Attorney Zach Klein announced yesterday his office will not pursue criminal charges against those who seek or assist in providing them.

  • Klein and Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O'Malley signed a joint statement from dozens of prosecutors across the U.S. who condemned efforts to criminalize abortion.

What he's saying: "Using limited criminal justice resources to prosecute personal health care decisions runs counter to my obligations to pursue justice and promote public safety," Klein said in a statement.

  • "We will continue to use our prosecutorial discretion to put the safety and security of Columbus residents first by allocating our resources to target the most serious crimes facing our community."

Reality check: As the city attorney, Klein is not tasked with handling felony offenses like those that might arise from the new abortion ban.

The other side: These prosecutors run counter to the state's top law enforcement officer, Attorney General Dave Yost, who worked quickly after Roe was struck down to get the ban enacted.

Of note: Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval wants to decriminalize abortion, change city law to cover elective abortions in city employees' health care plans and offer a travel reimbursement policy for those seeking care in other states.

  • "It is not my job to make it easier for the state legislature and governor to drag women back to the '50s and strip their rights," he tweeted. "It's my job to make that harder."
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