Ohio Attorney General asks for dismissal of abortion lawsuit

By: - July 21, 2022 3:55 am

Photo: Courtesy of the Ohio Supreme Court

The Ohio Attorney General has asked the state supreme court to dismiss a challenge to the six-week abortion ban, saying the court does not hold jurisdiction on the issue.

The lawsuit seeks to stop enforcement of the law, which had been tied up in courts before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the legality of abortion nationwide in June. Within hours after the decision came out, Ohio AG Dave Yost had asked a federal court to lift the injunction in place for the six-week ban, which it did the same day.

The law puts felony criminal charges in place for physicians who “knowingly and purposefully perform or induce an abortion on a pregnant woman with the specific intent of causing or abetting the termination of the life of the unborn human individual the pregnant woman is carrying and whose fetal heartbeat has been detected.”

In a filing with the court asking for dismissal of the case, Yost said the law has two exceptions “that allow for a physician, in a physician’s reasonable medical judgment, to perform abortions after cardiac activity is found.”

One exception, Yost said, “applies when an abortion is necessary to prevent the patient’s death,” and the other when there is “a serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.”

That serious risk is defined in the filing as “any medically diagnosed condition that so complicates the pregnancy of the woman as to directly or indirectly cause the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.”

Examples given are pre-eclampsia, ectopic pregnancy, “inevitable abortion,” and could even include diabetes and multiple sclerosis, Yost writes, citing Ohio Revised Code.

The dismissal request doesn’t go into any legal arguments supporting the abortion ban, merely asks the court to dismiss the lawsuit because of an error in legal strategy.

Yost argued to the supreme court that the court does not have the authority to entertain the legal request asked for by the lawsuit, which seeks to maintain the status quo in the state (which was previously a ban after 22 weeks gestation), rather than ask the state to take further action.

“In sharp contrast, the relators here seek solely to prevent the Heartbeat Act’s enforcement,” Yost wrote. “They do not seek to compel anything.”

Because of that, Yost said the court shouldn’t even move forward with considering the lawsuit.

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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 (KY) Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.