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Sixth Circuit Affirms Injunction Blocking Ohio Abortion Ban

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 10:  Demonstrators protest in front of the Thompson Center to voice their support for Planned Parenthood and reproductive rights on February 10, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. On February 11, rallies are scheduled to be held outside of Planned Parenthood clinics nationwide to call on Congress and President Trump to pull federal funding from Planned Parenthood.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
By Laura Temme, Esq. on October 15, 2019 10:39 AM

In a 2-1 opinion published last week, the Sixth Circuit upheld an injunction aimed at preventing enforcement of an Ohio law restricting certain types of abortions.

The bill, which criminalizes performing an abortion if the medical provider has reason to believe the woman is seeking an abortion because the baby is diagnosed with Down Syndrome, was blocked by a preliminary injunction before going into effect.

Ohio Statute Criminalizes Abortion When Down Syndrome is a Factor

Ohio H.B. 214 required physicians who perform abortions to attest in writing that they were not aware of fetal Down Syndrome being the reason someone chose to terminate their pregnancy. Violation of the statute is a fourth-degree felony, and the state medical board was required to revoke the physician's license.

Abortion providers in the state filed suit when the bill passed in 2017, requesting a preliminary injunction based on Roe v. Wade. The district court granted the injunction, finding that Roe, as well as Planned Parenthood v. Casey, grants women the express and unambiguous right to terminate her pregnancy pre-viability.

State Argues It's Interested in Preventing Discrimination

On appeal, state officials argued the state's interest in preventing discrimination based on a disability brought the abortion statute out from under Roe and Casey. In doing so, they argued that the state's interest in preventing such discrimination outweighs a woman's right to privacy. However, in Casey the Supreme Court drew a hard line on the issue, stating that before a fetus is viable outside the womb "the State's interests are not strong enough to support a prohibition of abortion."

The Sixth Circuit found the state's discrimination argument "deceptive in its construction," noting that under Casey any law that places a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman's choice is not considered a permissible means to serve a legitimate end.

As with so many recent abortion statutes, the goal is likely to get to the Supreme Court, where some wish to see Roe v. Wade overturned.

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