Ohio abortion rights are on the line, according to a leaked draft opinion showing a U.S. Supreme Court majority could strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion across the country.
Politico released the leaked draft opinion by the court’s conservative majority, though final opinions on cases sometimes shift and no decision has been officially announced.
The news drew swift reaction from Ohioans, politicians, and both anti-abortion and abortion-rights organizations.
President of Ohio Right to Life Michael Gonidakis said in a statement that the group is cautiously optimistic that the Supreme Court “will rule correctly and overturn the most reckless decision in our Nation’s history.”
“It is hard to articulate, though, just how momentous this could be,” Gonidakis said.
Abortion is still legal in Ohio right now, but Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio noted in a statement that Ohio is at risk of “going dark” and banning all forms of legal abortion should Roe be overturned and the state legislature moves forward with one of two trigger bans that have been introduced.
Ohio’s proposed “trigger bans” Senate Bill 123 and House Bill 598 would ban abortions if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe. The laws include exception if necessary to prevent death or irreversible impairment of of a major bodily function of the pregnant person.
“To say this ruling is devastating is an understatement,” stated Lauren Blauvelt-Copelin, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio VP of government affairs and public advocacy.
“Do not wait. Get involved. Together, we will get through this, and we will fight back stronger than before.”
In Dayton, a Rally for Reproductive Rights was held Tuesday in front of the federal building where people carried signs and some dressed as characters on “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
“We need to change our representatives on the state and federal level or rights will be lost,” Joy Schwab said, speaking from a bullhorn at the protest and wearing shirt saying “vote like your rights depend on it.”
The news broke just before primary voting in Ohio, and many Republican and Democratic campaigns sent out statements tying it into their pleas to voters.
“It is fitting that today is Primary Election Day in Ohio. This disastrous potential Supreme Court decision only highlights the crucial nature of down ballot races,” said Desiree Tims, president and CEO of the liberal Innovation Ohio.
Tim Ryan, campaigning for Ohio’s open U.S. Senate seat, said overturning Roe v. Wade would be “absolutely wrong” and catastrophic for Ohio.
“Control of the Senate has never been more important: it’s time to end the filibuster, pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, and fight like hell to make sure all Ohio families are free to make these critical decisions without interference from politicians in Columbus or Washington,” Ryan said.
Former Dayton mayor and Ohio governor candidate Nan Whaley said in a statement late Monday that it “has never been more important to elect a genuinely pro-choice candidate to be Ohio’s next governor.”
U.S. Senator Rob Portman said he has consistently said he believes Roe was wrongly decided and that the elected representatives in the states, not the Supreme Court, should have jurisdiction over this issue.
He also said the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion is an “egregious breach of trust and a deliberate attempt to undermine the faith we place in our nation’s most sacred institutions.”
“This further underscores the need for our country to put our political differences aside and work to restore this faith and trust in our institutions. I am encouraged that Chief Justice Roberts has ordered an investigation and hope the Court can identify the individuals responsible and hold them accountable,” Portman said.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, said while they don’t know whether this opinion will become the court’s decision “we need to act now and pass legislation to protect Americans’ right to make their own private health care choices.”
The news also comes as the Dayton area’s only abortion clinic, Women’s Med Center, is fighting to stay operating amid a new state law.
The current problem roots back to a requirement that Women’s Med Center in Kettering and other surgical abortion clinics must have a written transfer agreement with a hospital to operate in the state.
Women’s Med has never been able to get one of these agreements with the two major local health networks — Kettering Health and Premier Health — and instead has been operating under a waiver signed by doctors affiliated with Wright State University.
Now under the new law, the physicians who sign the clinic’s license waiver paperwork cannot be affiliated with a state medical school.
The overwhelming majority of OB/GYNs in the Dayton region work are either affiliated with the public medical school at Wright State University, or work for Kettering Health or Premier, leaving questions over whether the clinic will be able to find people to sign the waiver or have to stop procedural abortions.
In April, Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas Judge Alison Hatheway found that the law was being prematurely enforced before its effective date and that violated Plaintiff Women’s Med Dayton’s due process rights. The judge granted a preliminary injunction, blocking the law from being enforced.
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