Federal Judge Blocks Implementation of Ohio's Heartbeat Bill, Says It's Unconstitutional

Federal Judge Blocks Implementation of Ohio's Heartbeat Bill, Says It's Unconstitutional
Bill Sponsor State Rep. Christina Hagan, Ohio House of Representatives

A federal judge has blocked the implementation of S.B. 32, otherwise known as Ohio's heartbeat bill, saying that it violates a woman's constitutional right to an abortion. The ACLU and women's health clinics throughout Ohio had sued the state.

Citing a variety of factors, most notably that many women do not even know they are pregnant at the six-week mark when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, along with the various hoops, both logistical and lawful, that a woman must jump through to even have an abortion, and that the six-week cutoff amounts to a ban on almost 90% of abortions, Judge Michael Barrett concluded: "This Court concludes that S.B. 23 places an “undue burden” on a woman’s right
to choose a pre-viability abortion, and, under Casey, Plaintiffs are certain to succeed on the merits of their claim. To the extent that the State of Ohio “is making a deliberate effort to overturn Roe [v.Wade] and established constitutional precedent,” see Jackson Women’s Health, 349 F. Supp. 3d at 544, those arguments must be made to a higher court."

Proponents of the bill had expected this, and as Ohio and other GOP-led states pass similar legislation, they eagerly await a battle in that higher court.

The injunction prevents the bill from going into effect, which it was slated to do on July 11. (Read the full ruling here.)

Courts have struck down similar heartbeat laws in other states, including North Dakota and Iowa, as recently as January. Federal courts have declared the laws violate the constitution.

"Ultimately, this will work its way up to the United States Supreme Court," Governor Mike DeWine told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt earlier this year. "And they’ll make that decision.”
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