Judge to decide next steps on Ohio ‘heartbeat’ abortion ban


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A judge in Ohio was scheduled to hear arguments Friday on whether to extend a block on Ohio’s law banning virtually all abortions on a more permanent basis.

Hamilton County Judge Christian Jenkins previously decided to pause the law through Oct. 12, after it took effect in the wake of federal abortion protections being overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in June.

That marked the second 14-day pause Jenkins had ordered in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU of Ohio on behalf of the state’s remaining abortion providers. He found their lawsuit was “substantially likely to prevail on the merits.”

He must now decide whether to issue a permanent injunction that would pause the law as the litigation proceeds.

The suit argues that the abortion ban violates protections in the state constitution guaranteeing individual liberty and equal protection. It also says the law is unconstitutionally vague.

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed the law in April 2019. It prohibited most abortions after the first detectable “fetal heartbeat.” Cardiac activity can be detected as early as six weeks into pregnancy, or before many people know they’re pregnant.

The law was initially blocked through a legal challenge, but it went into effect after the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision was overturned.

By Julie Carr Smyth

Associated Press

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