A judge Wednesday temporarily blocked Ohio’s ban on almost all abortions in the state.
The 14-day restraining order comes on the eve of the planned closure of the Women’s Med Center in Kettering, which has been the Dayton area’s only surgical abortion clinic.
“We will start up abortion services in Dayton early next week,” said a representative from Dayton Women’s Med who asked not to be named for security reasons.
Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Christian Jenkins granted the order as part of a lawsuit filed on behalf of abortion providers in the state.
This means that abortions through 20 weeks’ gestation — what Ohio law allowed before the six-week ban — can continue for now.
Abortion providers and their defenders have said the six-week ban has already created a host of hardships, including forcing a 10-year-old Ohio rape victim to travel to Indiana for an abortion.
Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland called the decision “a blockbuster ruling.”
“Judge Jenkins said what we have already known: the Ohio Constitution does not allow state legislators and Governor Mike DeWine to ban Ohioans from accessing abortion care,” Copeland said. “This 14-day stay provides temporary relief to the suffering of people who need to have an abortion.”
Ohio Right to Life President Michael Gonidakis said, “We are more than confident that the Heartbeat Law will go back into effect relatively soon. Further, we can assure pro-life Ohio that in the near future Ohio will become abortion free, regardless of what this local judge ruled today.”
DeWine signed the six-week abortion ban, known as the “Heartbeat Bill,” just a few months after taking office in 2019. However, it would not have been able to take effect but for the June reversal of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court after nearly 50 years, declaring there is no constitutional right to an abortion.
The Women’s Med Center operated clinics in Kettering and Indianapolis, both of which had been scheduled to close this week as Indiana’s new “heartbeat” abortion law goes into effect. That law that bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is usually five or six weeks into pregnancy before many women know they are pregnant.
The Kettering clinic has been open for 35 years and had previously provided several hundred abortions per month. But Ohio’s recent restrictions outlawed about 90% of those, according to a clinic representative.
Since then, the facility mainly offered screening and pre-operative services. It referred abortion patients to the organization’s other clinic in Indianapolis.
The Indianapolis facility saw its patients double, to about 500 per month, when Ohio’s “Heartbeat Bill” went into effect.
Ohio legislators have approved other bills restricting abortion in the past few years. Last year, the “Born Alive” bill, sponsored by state Sens. Terry Johnson, R-McDermott and Steve Huffman, R-Tipp City, passed. It penalizes medical personnel who don’t take extensive measures to keep alive an infant born after an attempted abortion.
Further abortion restriction bills await legislators in November’s lame-duck session, but if they don’t pass by year’s end, they would have to be refiled for consideration in the 135th General Assembly.
Staff writers Jim Gaines and Josh Sweigart, plus the Associated Press, contributed to this report.
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