Planned Parenthood and ACLU file lawsuit challenging 'heartbeat bill' in Ohio, want court to block the ban

The attorneys in the case have argued that the state's new abortion law 'is a direct violation of Plaintiffs' patients' fundamental constitutional right to decide whether to have an abortion prior to viability and causes those patients irreparable harm'


                            Planned Parenthood and ACLU file lawsuit challenging 'heartbeat bill' in Ohio, want court to block the ban

Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio and other groups are now suing the state of Ohio over the new law that bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. The plaintiffs in the suit want a federal court to block the ban before it comes into effect on July 10. Elizabeth Watson, a staff attorney at the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project, said that she believes the law is "blatantly unconstitutional under more than 45 years of Supreme Court precedent".

She told CNN in an interview that the ban constitutes a prohibition at six weeks of pregnancy "on almost all abortions" because it's a state so early in a woman's term that "most people do not even know that they are pregnant". Watson said that abortion is under a never-before-seen attack in spite of "strong public support for supportive, affordable, and barrier-free access to abortion care".

Abortion rights activists protest outside of the U.S. Supreme Court, during the March for Life in Washington on January 18, 2019 (Source: AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

Dan Tierney, a spokesperson for Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, told CNN in a statement: "This is an expected development. Governor DeWine has long said that this issue will ultimately be decided by the United States Supreme Court." DeWine signed the bill into law on April 11. 

During that time, Ohio Attorney General David Yost praised the law saying: "In the last 46 years, the practice of medicine has changed. Science has changed. Even the point of viability has changed. Only the law has lagged behind. This law provides a stable, objective standard to guide the courts."

The plaintiffs in the suit are Preterm-Cleveland, Planned Parenthood Greater Ohio, Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region, Women's Med Corp Professional Group, Capital Care Network of Toledo and Sharon Liner M.D.

The lawsuit also names several state and local officials as defendants, including Yost, the director of the state's Department of Health, leaders in the State Medical Board of Ohio and several county prosecutors.

In this file photo, anti-abortion activists protest outside of the U.S. Supreme Court, during the March for Life in Washington (Source: AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

The new lawsuit looks to get a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction before the Ohio law comes into effect. The attorneys in the case have argued that the state's new abortion law "is a direct violation of Plaintiffs' patients' fundamental constitutional right to decide whether to have an abortion prior to viability and causes those patients irreparable harm".

A fetal heartbeat can be detected on the ultrasound at around six weeks into a woman's pregnancy. Mississippi, Kentucky, Arkansas and Georgia have also passed "heartbeat bills" this year. Alabama is the most recent state to pass the most restrictive anti-abortion law in the country. The bill has been signed by Governor Kay Ivey into law.

The ACLU previously sued against the Kentucky law and it was successfully blocked by the court. A lawsuit is currently pending in Mississippi. In Georgia, Watson said that "We, along with others, have vowed to challenge it before it takes effect". She had also promised that the ACLU will take similar action in Alabama.

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