The American Civil Liberties Union and other abortion rights groups have won a ruling from a lower court in Ohio that has indefinitely blocked the state’s ban on terminating pregnancies after six weeks.
In a statement released on Friday, the ACLU announced that Judge Christian Jenkins of the Hamilton county court of common pleas said that it would grant abortion providers’ and advocates’ request for a preliminary injunction against Ohio’s senate bill 23 (SB 23), a law that prohibits abortions starting at roughly a month and a half of pregnancy.
The law has three exceptions: to prevent the death of the mother; when there is serious risk of “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant mother”; and in cases of ectopic pregnancies.
In the meantime, as litigation over the ban continues, abortions up to 22 weeks of pregnancy remain legal in Ohio.
Abortion rights groups and women’s health centers, including Planned Parenthood and Preterm-Cleveland, hailed the court’s decision, calling it a “major victory”. The injunction comes after a temporary restraining order that had blocked the state’s ban on abortion after six weeks but could have been removed at the time of Friday’s ruling.
“We are thrilled … and relieved that patients in Ohio can continue to access abortion as we work to fight this unjust and dangerous ban in court,” the groups said in a joint statement.
“The preliminary injunction will be in place for the duration of our case, which means abortions will be legal in Ohio for a period much, much longer than the temporary restraining order granted. This court ruling will provide significant relief to Ohio patients and clinics.”
The groups said that they were focused on securing a permanent injunction from the court.
Last month, Jenkins wrote in the temporary restraining order that the law would result in “irreparable harm”.
“The record is replete with evidence of women who have suffered and whose health has been placed in jeopardy as a result of SB 23,” he said.
“SB 23 clearly discriminates against pregnant women and places an enormous burden on them to secure safe and effective health care such that it violates Ohio’s Equal Protection and Benefit Clause and is therefore unconstitutional.”
The US supreme court’s conservative majority voted in June to eliminate the federal abortion rights the landmark case Roe v Wade established in 1973. That left each state to decide whether to prohibit abortion in their jurisdictions.
Since then, more than 26 states have prohibited or severely limited access to abortion, or were expected to do so.