COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio’s six-week abortion ban will remain in place for now, after a Friday ruling came down from the state’s highest court.
The Ohio Supreme Court dismissed several Ohio abortion clinics’ lawsuits two days after they filed. The clinics had asked the Republican-led court to halt the state’s six-week abortion ban, arguing the denial of abortion care once fetal cardiac activity is detected violates the Ohio Constitution.
“The Ohio Supreme Court got it right,” Ohio Right to Life President Michael Gonidakis said in a news release. “What the abortion proponents attempted to do could not be done legally. The good news is that the Heartbeat law will remain in effect and save countless lives today and moving forward.”
Hours after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday in its decision Dobbs v. Jackson, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost successfully petitioned a federal court to dissolve a three-year injunction against Ohio’s heartbeat bill. It effectively outlawed abortion once fetal cardiac activity can be detected, usually at about six weeks gestation and provides no exceptions for rape or incest.
Shortly after attorneys representing Ohio’s abortion clinics asked the court to issue an emergency stay, the court ordered respondents, including Yost, to file a response to the plaintiffs’ motion.
In a 63-page response, Yost called arguments that Ohioans have a fundamental right to abortion under the state constitution “meritless,” adding that the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade constituted “an exercise of raw judicial power.”
“With this holding, the Court extricated itself from having to repeatedly decide policy matters that the Constitution leaves to the States and the political branches,” Yost wrote in his response.
Representatives from the ACLU and Planned Parenthoods of Greater and Southwest Ohio said they are “deeply disturbed” by the court’s ruling, condemning the state’s six-week abortion ban as a “draconian” law that will have grave consequences for Ohioans’ health.
“All people deserve autonomy over their bodies and the power to make their own health care decisions. We will do everything in our power moving forward to ensure that people can access the critical, timely abortion care they need and deserve,” ACLU and Planned Parenthood representatives said in a news release.
Both Franklin County and Cuyahoga County prosecutors Gary Tyack and Michael O’Malley supported the abortion clinics’ motion to block the heartbeat bill, the prosecutors wrote in a response before the Ohio Supreme Court.
O’Malley, along with Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein and more than 80 prosecutors nationwide, signed a letter last week in which they pledged to not prioritize filing criminal charges against those who commit abortion-related offenses.
“Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice; prosecutors should not be part of that,” prosecutors wrote in their letter.
The majority of Ohioans, about 53.4%, believe Ohio’s legislature should protect abortion rights in the state following an overturn of Roe v. Wade, according to a June 2022 poll commissioned by Suffolk University and the USA Today Network. About 39.2% of Ohioans responded that state legislators should restrict abortion access in the state, with about 7.6% remaining undecided or refusing to answer.
While the six-week abortion ban is currently the rule of law in Ohio, two trigger bills remain pending in the state legislature, which would outlaw the procedure entirely, except to save the life of a mother. There are no exceptions for rape or incest in either of the trigger bills.
Given the Republican supermajority in both chambers of Ohio’s legislature, abortion rights advocates have turned to other avenues to ensure abortion access. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nan Whaley announced her support Wednesday for a ballot initiative to codify Roe v. Wade into Ohio law.
“Instead of filing frivolous motions, the abortion industry should consider working with Ohio Right to Life to help women and save unborn children in the great state of Ohio,” Gonidakis said.