The new legal maneuver being used to restore access to abortion and keep Ohio's clinics open
Earlier this week, it was announced that the only abortion clinic in Dayton will be closing its doors on September 15 if legal action to allow it to stay open is unsuccessful. An attorney representing many of Ohio's abortion clinics, including the Dayton facility, says they can't wait much longer. So, a strategic legal move is being taken to try to keep those facilities open and "immediately restore Ohioans' reproductive rights secured by the Ohio Constitution."
Freda Levenson, the legal director for the ACLU of Ohio, said the organization has withdrawn its case challenging the state's new law from the Ohio Supreme Court. Ohio's new law now bans abortion at the point fetal cardiac activity can be detected and that can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.
“When we filed this case over two months ago, the situation was already bad because the 'heartbeat' ban had come into effect and there was chaos and misery throughout the state but since then, over this past two months, things have only gotten worse," Levenson said.
Levenson said a new case has been filed in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court in an attempt to get an injunction that would allow clinics to continue to operate.
Ohio's new abortion law took effect on the same day the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark ruling that guaranteed abortion access nationwide. Within hours of the high court's action, a hold that had been put on Ohio's current ban by a federal court was lifted, allowing the 2019 so called "Heartbeat law" to go into effect immediately. Shortly after that, the ACLU of Ohio filed the suit with the Ohio Supreme Court to get a temporary, emergency injunction to set aside the new law.
Clinics and doctors said most people seeking abortions in Ohio have not been able to get them under the new law. Levenson said it's becoming harder for Ohio patients to travel out of state to get the procedure now because surrounding states are now starting to enact abortion bans of their own as well.
Ultimately, the case could end up in the Ohio Supreme Court after all. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday in Hamilton County. And regardless of that outcome, Levenson expects there will be appeals.
"Ultimately, the case, regardless of who wins, will wind its way up through the appellate system in the Ohio courts and end up before the Ohio Supreme Court. I think that's very likely," Levenson said.