Ohio Supreme Court could reinstate 6-week abortion ban ahead of Nov. vote

By: - August 14, 2023 4:55 am

Hundreds gather at a rally to support abortion rights. (Photo by Graham Stokes for the Ohio Capital Journal. Republish photo only with original story.)

Ahead of the abortion rights vote in November, the GOP-led Ohio Supreme Court announced that they will be hearing a case that could reinstate a controversial law that bans the vast majority of abortions.

There has been an August special election, lawsuits and millions of dollars spent all to make it harder for Ohioans to choose in November if they have a constitutional right to abortion.

This was contrasted by the Court dealing a win Friday afternoon to abortion rights groups, unanimously siding that an effort led by activists and supported by Statehouse Republicans in Ohio didn’t have merit to move forward. The group of Republican activists, and a former House representative, tried to prevent the abortion amendment from getting on the ballot.

However, the Court did decide to hear oral arguments in September, giving them the opportunity to put the six-week abortion ban back into place.

“It’s the extremists in Ohio that are pushing every which way they can to stop abortion from being legal,” state Rep. Dr. Anita Somani (D-Dublin) said.

Republican lawmakers passed the six-week abortion ban in 2019, which had no rape or incest exceptions. This law was blocked by a federal judge a few months later.

When Roe fell in 2022, Ohio reinstated the six-week ban. Pro-abortion rights groups sued, and months later, a state judge indefinitely blocked the law from going into place, citing infringement of privacy.

Pro-abortion rights groups sued, and weeks later, a state judge indefinitely blocked the law from going into effect. This case has been sitting in the high court for half a year now.

Somani is an OB-GYN, and she said that the state Supreme Court deciding to hear the six-week abortion ban in September looks calculated.

State Rep. Josh Williams (R-Oregon) disagreed with Somani. He believes that the court should be unbiased, and therefore doesn’t have ulterior motives.

“I would want a court that proceeds in the normal course of conduct no matter what’s happening within our country,” Williams said.

In 2022, WEWS broke the story that while three of the four GOP court justices were campaigning to keep their seats, they told an anti-abortion political action committee that abortion was not a constitutional right.

However, the Court is not evaluating whether or not the six-week law is constitutional. The justices are debating procedural, yet still important, issues.

For context, the state judge who blocked the law in 2022 only did so temporarily, so when Attorney General Dave Yost filed an appeal, the appellate court shut it down because they aren’t able to judge on preliminary rulings.

Law expert Jonathan Entin said there are a few possible outcomes to the September arguments:

1. The Supreme Court sends it back to the lower courts

If the Court says that there is an appealable order, then the case will go back to the appellate court.

On the other hand, if they say it is not an appealable order, the case will go back to the trial court — which will then continue to address the merits of the six-week ban.

2. The Court chooses not to make a decision until after the November election.

3. The Court throws away the case, reinstating the six-week ban

The justices would be able to dismiss the case by determining it has no standing.

“I could envision a very fast-track scenario where the six-week abortion ban might come back into play before November,” Entin said.

This is feasible, but it all depends on timing — so Entin says he doesn’t think this option is the one they will go with.

For Williams, the six-week ban is ideal for Ohio.

“You engaged in adult activity, you have a reasonable time to get done with your beer goggles and your bad decisions and say, ‘let me go and talk to my doctor,'” Williams said.

OCJ/WEWS asked about the people who didn’t have access to health care or who didn’t learn about the outcomes of sexual intercourse due to Ohio not having sexual education standards.

“If you want to have discussions about better access to quality sexual education in primary, secondary school, I’m open for that, and I believe in that,” he responded. “If you want to talk about health care, I actually am a proponent of expanding health care coverage to young individuals and especially individuals that are pregnant here in the state of Ohio.”

There is still lasting damage from the time when the ban was reinstated last year to when it was blocked by the judge, Somani argued.

“The disaster of these bans are that they hurt women; women die,” she said.

Oral arguments begin Sept. 27.


This article was originally published on News5Cleveland.com and is published in the Ohio Capital Journal under a content-sharing agreement. Unlike other OCJ articles, it is not available for free republication by other news outlets as it is owned by WEWS in Cleveland.

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Morgan Trau
Morgan Trau

Morgan Trau is a political reporter and multimedia journalist based out of the WEWS Columbus Bureau. A graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Trau has previously worked as an investigative, political and fact-checking reporter in Grand Rapids, Mich. at WZZM-TV; a reporter and MMJ in Spokane, Wash. at KREM-TV and has interned at 60 Minutes and worked for CBS Interactive and PBS NewsHour.