Ohio judge temporarily suspends abortion ban

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An Ohio judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked the state’s ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy and said the right to abortion is protected by the state’s constitution.

The decision restores widespread access to abortion — at least for the next 14 days — in Ohio and widens access in a bloc of states where abortion has been banned or unavailable since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June ended the ban. constitutional right to abortion.

Across the region, bans required women who wanted or needed an abortion to travel great distances. In a widely publicized case, a 10-year-old Ohio girl who became pregnant through rape was refused an abortion in Ohio and traveled to Indiana instead. As of Thursday, abortion will become largely illegal in Indiana, which passed a ban following the Supreme Court ruling, although that state’s law is also subject to lawsuit.

More than a dozen states are severely banning or restricting abortions, and more state lawmakers are considering restrictions, while others are strengthening abortion rights in a shifting legal patchwork across the country. This week, West Virginia passed an almost complete ban, and Senator Lindsey Graham proposed a national ban on abortion after 15 weeks.

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In Ohio, a judge in the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas wrote that the plaintiffs, a group of abortion providers in Ohio, were likely to win their lawsuit in court.

Judge Christian A. Jenkins agreed with the health care providers’ argument that there was a “fundamental right to abortion” under the Ohio Constitution because it provided equal protection and benefits to women. He noted that a previous federal court decision on abortion had recognized that the state constitution allowed more rights than the federal one. He also acknowledged that voters approved a “health care freedom amendment” to the constitution in 2011, which would prevent the state from prohibiting or sanctioning the purchase of health care. That law was passed as a rejection of the Obamacare health insurance expansion.

“It takes no great effort to discover that Ohio law recognizes a fundamental right to privacy, reproduction, physical integrity, and agency in health care decision-making,” wrote Judge Jenkins, a Democrat.

It was a rare victory for abortion rights advocates, who have filed lawsuits against more than a dozen states that had banned abortion pending the Supreme Court’s decision over Roe v. Wade, which supported a constitutional right to abortion for nearly five decades. to push aside. Those lawsuits argued that state constitutions included the right to abortion, but in most cases, judges refused to block the ban while the lawsuits were pending. In only three states — North Dakota, Utah and Wyoming — abortion rights groups managed to temporarily block so-called trigger bans on abortion.

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Ohio, which has become a laboratory for increasingly strict abortion restrictions over the past decade, passed its six-week ban in 2019. The law restricts abortion after fetal heart activity can be detected, which is generally six weeks after the start of a pregnant woman’s last pregnancy. menstruation, and before many women realize they are pregnant.

In his decision, Judge Jenkins quoted affidavits from abortion providers describing the harm to women who could not have had an abortion, including the 10-year-old girl, who was six weeks and three days pregnant when she requested the procedure. Girls in high school had threatened to drink bleach or ended up on suicide watch when they were told they couldn’t have an abortion. A woman needed chemotherapy for recurrent cancer but was eight weeks pregnant and thus could not get an abortion or treatment for her cancer in Ohio.

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The law, the judge wrote, “clearly discriminates against pregnant women and places a huge burden on them to ensure safe and effective health care.”

Mike Gonidakis, the president of Ohio Right to Life, said the judge was making “a political statement, not a statement based on law or fact,” and predicted that the Ohio Supreme Court would eventually uphold the 2019 law. “Nowhere in the Ohio Constitution can an average person even infer that there is a state constitutional right to abortion,” he said.

The judge’s order will allow women in Ohio to resume abortions up to 22 weeks of pregnancy. While the restraining order was granted for 14 days, lawyers for the abortion providers said the judge could extend it after a new hearing.

The post Ohio Judge temporarily suspends abortion ban appeared first on New York Times.

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