Ohio Attorney General asks Supreme Court to rescind block on heartbeat law

Planned Parenthood, Ohio, abortion, waiting period

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has asked the state’s Supreme Court to overturn the December 16 decision of a lower appeals court that upheld a block on the state’s heartbeat law.

In December, the 1st District Court of Appeals denied Yost’s request that it overturn the ruling of Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Christian Jenkins. Jenkins blocked the state’s heartbeat law in October, arguing that abortion is a right under the Ohio state constitution. In denying Yost’s request, the appeals court stated that Yost had filed it prematurely and that the case should proceed through the lower court. Now, in his January 3 brief to the Supreme Court, Yost is appealing that ruling and asking the Supreme Court to take up the case, arguing that it will be stalled in the lower court system.

“If allowed to stand, the First District’s ruling will leave the State with no way to protect legislation from egregiously wrong preliminary injunctions,” the brief, filed by Solicitor General Benjamin Flowers, states. “Trial courts that issue such injunctions have every incentive to drag out lower-court proceedings, ensuring their orders remain in effect – and that state laws with which they disagree remain unenforceable – for as long as possible. Nothing in Ohio law requires that result.”

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The brief also notes that the consideration of whether or not abortion is constitutionally protected is an important one. “This case presents the question of whether the Ohio Constitution protects a right to abortion. The sooner the Court settles that question, the better,” Flowers wrote. “By deciding whether the Ohio Constitution takes this issue from the democratic process, the court can clarify Ohio’s ability to regulate abortion so as to address these competing interests.”

The state’s heartbeat law protects preborn children from abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is usually around six weeks. It passed Ohio’s General Assembly in 2019 but was blocked by a federal judge after Gov. Mike DeWine signed it. The law was reinstated following the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v. Wade, and stayed in effect until Jenkins issued his injunction in October. As long as the law remains blocked, abortions will remain legal through 22 weeks in the state.

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