Court: Ohio can’t appeal block on ‘heartbeat’ abortion law

"Courtroom Gavel" by Joe Gratz, public domain

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s ban on most abortions will remain blocked after the First District Court of Appeals on Friday denied the state’s request to appeal a judge’s preliminary block on the law.

The ruling regards Ohio’s so-called “heartbeat” abortion ban, which outlaws the procedure after the first cardiac activity is detected. That can be as early as six weeks into pregnancy, before many people know they’re pregnant.

Preterm-Cleveland and other Ohio abortion clinics challenge the law as a violation of the Ohio Constitution.

The ruling allows the case to proceed in county court, where the state is arguing that the Ohio Constitution doesn’t mention abortion and therefore doesn’t protect the right to one.

Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Christian Jenkins knocked that argument when he issued his preliminary injunction from the bench in October. He said a right doesn’t have to be named to be protected.

A previous challenge to the Ohio law’s constitutionality under the U.S. Constitution was dropped after the nation’s high court overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortions in June.

Swift action by Republican Attorney General Dave Yost allowed the Ohio law, signed in 2019, to take immediate effect in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, but only briefly until the challenge under the state’s constitution was filed.

Two different groups announced plans this week to pursue ballot issues to change Ohio’s constitution permanently to protect abortion rights. Majority Republicans at the Statehouse have said they want to raise the threshold for changing the constitution from a simple majority to a 60% supermajority to try to thwart that effort.

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