Ohio abortion access legal fights move ahead

Thursday night, U.S. District Court Judge Michael R. Barrett granted an injunction in favor of Planned Parenthood and the Women’s Med Center of Dayton in the latest legal effort over abortion access in Ohio.

MORE: Kettering abortion clinic loses appeal to stay open, may go to Supreme Court

The ruling will stop most provisions of Ohio Senate Bill 145 from going into effect. The bill was signed in December by former Gov. John Kasich and prohibited the dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedure, in which the cervix is dilated and the contents of the uterus extracted. Though there is no exception in the law to allow the procedure in cases of rape or incest, but there is one if the mother’s life is at risk.

The court ruled that “the law was likely unconstitutional because it created an undue burden on woman seeking abortions after 15 weeks gestational age.” The case was tried over three days last week.

Attorney General Dave Yost issued a statement after the ruling was made by Barrett.

“We are pleased that Judge Barrett largely upheld the ban on dismembering unborn children while they are still alive,” Yost said. “Though we will continue defend the constitutionality of every part of the law, we appreciate the Judge’s recognition that Ohio may ban abortion methods that are more brutal than any form of slaughter we would permit to be used on livestock.”

Barrett’s decision follows other courts in the country that have struck down Texas’ and Alabama’s attempts to ban the same procedure.

“Ohio politicians should stop telling health care providers how to treat their patients,” said Jennifer Branch, of Gerhardstein & Branch Co. LPA, which has represented the Kettering-based Women’s Med Center in its fight to stay open. “Ohio’s extreme abortion bans are blatantly unconstitutional, yet our elected officials keep wasting tax payer dollars passing these laws.”

MORE: ACLU to sue Ohio over ‘heartbeat’ abortion ban

Branch said that the case was being tried last week at the same time Ohio passed the six-week abortion ban that will effectively ban all abortions in Ohio.

“Most women do not even know they are pregnant at six weeks,” Branch said. “It is time Ohio politicians stop endangering woman’s health.”

The Women’s Med Center is at the same time seeking to overturn a state law that it should close because it has not acquired a written transfer agreement from a local hospital for its patients in the event of an emergency. Neither Kettering Health Network nor Premier Health Partners have signed an agreement with the center even though both hospitals will accept patients transferred from the center without a written agreement.

Branch said she will file a formal appeal with the Ohio Supreme Court within the next 30 days regarding that requirement. The center remains open while the appeal is being heard.

Kersha Deibel, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region, said Barrett’s ruling was a win for women’s health.

“The courts agree that limiting the options available to medical professionals is not only foolish, it’s dangerous. Our patients deserve to have their health care come before political agendas; this isn’t about politics, it’s about access to health care.”

Dayton Right to Life Assistant Director Margie Christie said Thursday’s ruling was just another “decision by this activist judge protecting the pro-abortion industry in this state.”

“It’s judges like these, that help keep the abortion industry in business, regardless of the laws enacted by the state and ultimately the people of Ohio,” Christie said.

State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, said that Judge Barrett’s injunction “still preserves the ban on the dismemberment procedure from being used in any abortion after 18 weeks. This will save hundreds of lives of babies in Ohio. I am confident the full law will eventually upheld to ban this gruesome procedure.”

MORE: Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine answers questions about ‘Heartbeat’ abortion law

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