Ohio AG appeal denied in abortion health order fight

A medical exam room.
A medical exam room. File photo from MaxPixels.net.

A district court denied the Ohio Attorney General’s Office appeal against a temporary restraining order allowing abortion clinics to continue surgical abortions during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a decision filed Monday, the U.S. District Court for the Sixth District said the state did not give a sufficient argument to reverse the temporary restraining order, currently in effect for two weeks.

In the denial, the judge calls abortion “a unique medical procedure under both Ohio and federal law because that procedure must be performed within 22 weeks.”

“A state may regulate certain abortion procedure … or require women to undertake steps that may delay obtaining an abortion … so long as the state leaves open reasonably available avenues for obtaining a pre-viability abortion,” court documents state.

The restraining order was issued on March 30 as a two-week hold on Attorney General Dave Yost’s directive sent to two Planned Parenthood clinics. The letters sent to the clinics ordered the clinics to stop performing surgical abortions, as part of a health order to conserve personal protective equipment, or PPEs.

When the restraining order was put in place, the AG’s office filed an appeal on April 2 in which the state explained their interpretation of the order. They said the order does not ban abortions if they are necessary, and has never banned medication abortions, which aren’t done in a clinic.

“That means women can get a surgical abortion when necessary to save their lives or to prevent a serious health complication,” the appeal stated. “It also means that doctors can perform abortions when, given time constraints, delay means depriving the patient of the ability to abort.”

The court order stays in effect in the 14 days “unless dissolved earlier or extended by the court.”