Ohio abortion law remains locked in court after judge blocks enforcement

By: - April 18, 2022 3:50 am

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Protesters march south on High Street, part of a large circuit downtown that changed from the planned route due to the large turnout. More than a thousand people gathered at the Statehouse as part of the nationwide Women’s March focussing on reproductive rights, Saturday, October 2, 2021. Photo by Graham Stokes for OCJ.

An Ohio law that would, among other things, keep physicians connected to public medical schools from participating in abortion clinic practices has been blocked again by a Hamilton County judge.

Senate Bill 157 has been in Judge Alison Hatheway’s court since February, when Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region, Women’s Med Dayton and the ACLU sued to keep the law from taking effect.

The law was originally drawn up by its Republican sponsors as a way to track what the state calls “failed abortions,” that is, abortion procedures in which a fetus is alive after the procedure. Though the state has a category for the topic, statistics kept by the state don’t support claims that it occurs, according to annual abortion reports.

But the law, which was signed by Gov. Mike DeWine on Dec. 22, 2021, also restricts the type of physicians who can work in an ambulatory surgical facility where abortions are conducted.

SB 157 prohibits doctors working with or affiliated with public medical schools in the state from being a part of abortion clinics.

It can also threaten the medical licenses and criminal records of doctors who conduct abortions but don’t act when a fetus is found to be alive after the surgical abortion procedure, according to the law. During committee consideration of the bill, medical officials and other opponents to the bill said oaths physicians take when they become doctors and other state laws keep them from ignoring a patient who needs medical care.

The Friday court decision is the second ruling blocking the law from being enforced. The pro-abortion groups received a temporary restraining order last month, before asking Hamilton County Common Pleas Court to issue a preliminary injunction.

The ACLU argued that the law was set to take effect on March 23, but the law also gave clinics 90 days after law enactment to prove they were in compliance.

“Despite these dates, the law was already being enforced against Women’s Med Dayton,” the ACLU said in a statement.

Hatheway ruled that enforcing the law before before the timeline set up by the law violated due process rights for the clinic.

“The state’s disregard of foundational due process principles shows just how far it will go to attempt to eliminate access to abortion,” Planned Parenthood and Women’s Med Dayton said in a press release announcing the court decision.

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Susan Tebben
Susan Tebben

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.

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