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ACLU Asks Court To Permanently Block Ohio's 'Heartbeat' Abortion Ban

A Planned Parenthood supporter and opponent try to block each other's signs during a protest and counter-protest of abortion in St. Louis on Feb. 11, 2017.
Jim Salter
Associated Press

The ACLU of Ohio is asking a federal court to permanently block Ohio's "heartbeat" abortion law, which bans abortions early as six weeks into pregnancy.

Abortion rights advocates had secured an order to temporarily stop the law, formally known as the "Human Rights Protection Act," from going into effect as planned in July. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett said abortion rights groups were "certain to succeed on the merits of their claim that (the bill) is unconstitutional on its face."

Freda Levenson, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio, says the state hasn’t fought the order.

“The state had an opportunity to appeal that ruling, but it let the date to file an appeal come and go without doing anything," Levenson says.

Levenson says the ACLU is now asking the court to permanently block the law, as has happened in other states like Kentucky and Mississippi.

If the law were to take effect, it would ban nearly all abortions in the state. It would also add criminal penalties for doctors who perform abortions, and would allow discriplinary action by the State Medical Board.

"The law is well-settled that women possess a fundamental constitutional right of access to abortions," Barrett wrote in his injunction.

When asked why the Ohio Attorney General’s office didn’t appeal the ruling, it replied with a written statement: “Our office will defend Ohio’s laws.”

Backers of the ban, including Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Right To Life, have said they hope it will go to the U.S. Supreme Court. Anti-abortion advocates hope to spur a legal challenge to "Roe v. Wade," which legalized abortion in the U.S.

DeWine signed the "Human Rights Protection Act" into law in April. The lawsuit was filed the next month by Preterm-Cleveland, Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio and Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio, Women's Med Corp, and Capital Care Network of Toledo.