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Ohio Supreme Court denies attempt to stop abortion ban

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Protesters gathered at the Ohio Statehouse to voice opposition to the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade. (photo by Nick Evans)

The Ohio Supreme Court has denied an attempt by abortion clinics to stop a six-week abortion ban from being enforced.

In a Friday ruling, the court denied a motion for an emergency stay of Senate Bill 23, legislation signed into law in 2019 that banned abortion up to six-weeks gestation.

The lawsuit is still ongoing, but denial of the emergency stay means abortion clinics won’t be able to conduct abortions past six weeks as the case continues. The announcement did not indicate whether the denial was unanimous.

The court asked for responses by Thursday to the lawsuit’s request to stay the law, and received briefs from state officials, prosecutors and academics.

In a “friend of the court brief” filed Thursday, professors of public health, sociology, epidemiology and public affairs from The Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati joined with the ACLU and Planned Parenthood in pushing for an end to Senate Bill 23, which was implemented on Friday, hours after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

“Instead of reflecting the Ohioan majority view that supports abortion rights, SB 23 caters to the minority fraction of Ohioans that are unsupportive of these rights,” the brief states.

The researchers cite polling data on support of abortion rights from three different universities: Suffolk University, Baldwin Wallace University and Quinnipiac University. All of the surveys found a majority of survey-takers supported abortion rights, and the professors argued that the polls proved that public opinion is on the side of abortion rights.

“While abortion attitudes arise out of complex combination of interlocking feelings toward gender, religion, politics, morality, science and many other facets, SB 23 allows from none of this nuance,” the professors wrote.

Prosecutors from Cuyahoga County and Franklin County aren’t going to stand in the way of the lawsuit. Both Michael O’Malley and Gary Tyack filed documents with the court saying they “do not oppose” granting an emergency stay of the law.

O’Malley previously signed on to a letter with other national prosecutors and attorneys pledging not to enforce abortion bans following the Supreme Court decision.

Attorney General Dave Yost also responded to the lawsuit, calling the request for emergency stay of the law “substantively and procedurally flawed,” citing the Roe v. Wade ruling last week in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Org.

“With this holding, the court extricated itself from having to repeatedly decide policy matters that the Constitution leaves to the states and the political branches,” Yost wrote.

Any contention that Ohio’s constitution holds the right to abortion is “indefensible,” the attorney general stated, “no matter the theory of constitutional interpretation one might embrace.”


This story was republished from the Ohio Capital Journal under a Creative Commons license.

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