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Judge blocks Ohio's 'heartbeat' abortion law

By Danielle Haynes
Judge blocks Ohio's 'heartbeat' abortion law
Abortion advocates and anti-abortion activists square off at the Supreme Court during the March for Life anti-abortion rally in Washington, D.C., on January 18. A federal judge said Ohio's "heartbeat" abortion bill placed an undue burden on women. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

July 3 (UPI) -- A federal judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked Ohio's so-called "heartbeat" abortion bill one week before it was supposed to go into effect.

He granted the preliminary junction citing the 1992 Supreme Court ruling that the government cannot place undue burden on women seeking abortions.

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The legislation, which Gov. Mike DeWine signed in April, outlaws abortions after doctors are able to detect a fetal heartbeat. It effectively bans the procedure after the sixth week of pregnancy, before some women know they're pregnant.

The only exceptions will be if the woman's life is in danger, but not in cases of rape or incest.

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Critics of the law say the six-week cutoff occurs before many women know they're pregnant. The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio called the law "among the most radical in the nation."

U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett said women who have regular periods would have two weeks to realize they're pregnant, decide whether to have an abortion and then seek an abortion. Women without regular periods may not have have "time to choose her fate."

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"One could characterize the obstacle Ohio women will face as not merely 'substantial' but, rather, 'insurmountable,'" he wrote.

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, which was a plaintiff in the case, welcomed the ruling.

"Today the court has upheld the clear law: women in Ohio (and across the nation) have the constitutional right to make this deeply personal decision about their own bodies without interference from the state," said Freda Levenson, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said the Supreme Court case cited as precedent -- Planned Parenthood vs. Casey -- is "ripe for review."

"This office will fulfill its duty to defend the laws passed by the elected representatives in the General Assembly," he said.

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