ACLU, Planned Parenthood file suit challenging Ohio’s abortion law


COLUMBUS — The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of Ohio, and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit this week challenging a law banning abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy. The bill was signed into law last month by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.

The legal challenge seeks immediate relief to prevent the law from taking effect July 10. Ohio is one of 12 other states that have considered similar legislation this year. A court has already blocked a nearly identical measure in Kentucky. Abortion providers have sued in Mississippi and have announced their intent to sue in Georgia. None of the bans are in effect. Abortion is still legal in all 50 states.

“This assault on reproductive rights has been anticipated, and we’ve been preparing and perfecting our case. This is a ban on almost all abortions, and if the court does not block it, it will imperil the freedoms and health of Ohio women,” said Freda Levenson, legal director of the ACLU of Ohio. “The law of the land has been crystal clear for nearly 50 years: Women have a categorical right to a pre-viability abortion.”

“Make no mistake, unless blocked by the court, this law would ban approximately 90 percent of abortions in Ohio, which would disproportionately affect people of color, people struggling financially, and young people,” said Elizabeth Watson, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “For over 40 years, Roe v. Wade has ensured that every person in Ohio and across the country can make the deeply personal decision about whether to become parents or grow their family without shame, obstacles, or stigma. Let this be a warning to the anti-abortion politicians in Ohio and across the country — if you attack our right to abortion, we will always be here to defend it.”

“This near-total ban on abortion is part of the constant barrage of restrictions and unnecessary policing of women’s bodies from lawmakers that will have the most damaging impact on Ohio communities that are medically under-served, in rural areas, and those that have historically been marginalized,” said Iris E. Harvey, CEO and president of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio. “Planned Parenthood will be unwavering in our fight to protect access to affordable reproductive health care that includes safe, legal abortion.”

“At six weeks, most people don’t even know they’re pregnant,” said Kersha Deibel, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region. “We’re challenging this law because it would take away a person’s right to make their own medical decisions before they even know they have a decision to make. … Politicians have no right to dictate personal medical decisions and we will not stand for it.”

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Staff report