Federal Judge Blocks Part of Ohio Law Banning Second Trimester Abortion Procedure

A Federal Judge has ruled that portions of an abortion-limiting bill, signed into law late last year, cannot be enforced as the law is written.

As previously reported:

On December 13, 2018, then-Governor John Kasich signed Senate Bill 145 (SB 145), commonly referred to as a Dismemberment Abortion Ban into law. It is, as reported at the time, “an act that restricts one of the most common methods in which second-trimester abortions are performed.  The Dismemberment Abortion Ban, as the bill is known, restricts doctors from performing procedures in which dismemberment of the fetus occurs.

The law also made it a “fourth-degree felony” for a doctor to perform the procedure. Should a doctor do so, they could face up to 18 months in prison and the loss of their license to practice medicine. The procedure can only be performed if the mother’s life is at serious risk or if the doctor causes “fetal demise” before the procedure.

In late March, Senior U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett in Cincinnati placed a temporary hold on the bill. This was placed as the result of a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood against the bill on the grounds that the law was unconstitutional. “They argued that this law places an ‘undue burden’ on women, one that is explicitly outlawed by Roe v. Wade.”  The judge declined to state at the time how he felt about the legality of the bill, only that he wanted to give both sides time to make their point.

Thursday, Judge Barrett, upheld that the state has the right to ban the procedure. However, they may not ban it for women who are less than 18 weeks pregnant. His rationalle was that this is the only procedure that can be used in certain circumstances and banning it would be tantamount to banning abortion. In addition, he ruled that a doctor may not be prosecuted should:

  1. Where a physician performs D&E procedure before 18 weeks LMP;
  2. Where, during the course of a D&E procedure, a physician accidentally
    removes fetal parts when intending to comply with demise requirements;
  3. Where a physician performs a D&E procedure after an attempted demise
    procedure fails;
  4. Where a physician performs a D&E procedure without demise after
    making a medical determination that a given patient is not a candidate
    for a demise procedure, either because a procedure is contraindicated or
    medically impossible for that patient.

Though it is likely that Planned Parenthood will appeal the decision, this and any future ruling may prove moot.

On April 12th, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) signed Senate Bill 23 (SB 23). The bill commonly referred to as the ‘Heartbeat Abortion Ban” outlaws any abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. It is generally agreed that a heartbeat can be detected at six to the nine-weeks, though this is often dependent on available medical technology. It is, generally, considered therefore a six-week abortion limit. The measure is already being challenged in court and is likely to make it to the Supreme Court before being resolved.

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Andrew Shirley is a reporter at Battleground State News and The Ohio StarSend tips to [email protected].
Photo “Abortion Protests” by Becker1999. CC BY 2.0.






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