A federal judge blocked the enforcement of Ohio’s newly signed pro-life law on Wednesday, ruling it unconstitutional.
Senate Bill 23, signed into law by Republican Governor Mike DeWine in April, would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. Since a fetus’ heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks into the pregnancy, this law would prohibit a large amount of the abortions that occur within the state.
U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett used this fact as his motivation to issue a preliminary injunction against the bill. Arguing that a pregnant woman should have time to “choose her fate,” Barrett wrote:
This court concludes that SB 23 places an ‘undue burden’ on a woman’s right to choose a pre-viability abortion, and … plaintiffs are certain to succeed on the merits of their claim.
The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and Planned Parenthood on behalf of Ohio abortion providers, including Preterm-Cleveland. Chrisse France, executive director of Preterm-Cleveland, stated the organization’s support of Barrett’s decision:
Ohioans deserve access to abortion that is safe, affordable, and without shame or judgment…We will continue to fight for all women and people who can become pregnant to have access to abortion care, to make the decisions they believe are best for their lives, and to build communities where each of us can participate with dignity and respect.
Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, explained that his organization is disappointed but not surprised by the ruling. He stated:
The heartbeat bill has the potential to be the vehicle that overturns Roe v. Wade…We know that this temporary restraining order is just a step in the process to finally seeing Roe reconsidered.
According to records from the Ohio Department of Health, 46.3 percent of all the abortions that took place in the state of Ohio in 2017 occurred after nine weeks of pregnancy. This percentage represents 9,109 abortions, which means that a heartbeat ban could prevent close to 10,000 abortions a year from taking place.
The block on enforcement of this law is temporary. Further action will be required to permanently block it.