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Ohio's top court to consider how Issue 1 affects state's six-week abortion ban

The Supreme Court of Ohio chamber.
Daniel Konik
Statehouse News Bureau
The Supreme Court of Ohio chamber.

The Ohio Supreme Court, which has been considering a technical question about the state's ban on abortion after six weeks, asked the parties involved in the lawsuit to file written arguments on the impact of a constitutional amendment approved by voters last week.

The head of the state’s leading anti-abortion group said he thinks Issue 1 makes that six-week ban unconstitutional.

The court asked abortion providers and Attorney General Dave Yost to explain what effect, if any, they believe Issue 1 has on the case by Dec. 7, the date the new constitutional amendment takes effect. The case is about some legal issues and not the merits of the six-week ban, also known as the “Heartbeat Law”, which includes no exceptions for rape or incest.

Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis said he thinks Issue 1 will have a big impact.

“There's going to be some court arguments, there are going to be some things. But just on its face, without getting in the legal weeds here, it would appear that the ‘Heartbeat Law’ would violate the new constitutional standard," Gonidakis said.

The six-week ban, which prohibits abortion at the point fetal cardiac activity can be detected, has been on hold since last fall. A Hamilton County Court ruled last October that the ban was "vague" and should not be enforced.

Gonidakis, who also sits on the Ohio State Medical Board, said he thinks the court will rule the ban unconstitutional.

“I believe, yes, it will, because the constitution trumps state law. And that's the role of our seven [Ohio] Supreme Court justices, to look at the constitution and what the legislature passes and if it’s constitutional," Gonidakis said.

A federal court hearing a suit over the 2015 state law on transfer agreements between abortion clinics and hospitals also asked attorneys to file arguments on how Issue 1 might affect that case. Some ambulatory clinics that offer abortions have found it difficult to stay in operation without getting a variance from the Ohio Department of Health.

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