Ohio's six-week ban on abortion will remain in effect for now, the state Supreme Court ruled Friday, as abortion providers file a string of lawsuits aiming to block state-level bans that took effect following the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade—and have been successful in other state courts.
The Ohio Supreme Court rejected a request by abortion providers to block the law as a lawsuit against it moved forward, after courts let the six-week ban take effect hours after Roe v. Wade was overturned June 24.
Four states— Louisiana , Kentucky , Utah and Texas —have now had statewide abortion bans blocked in state court after abortion providers challenged them under state law, which have allowed abortions to resume in those states.
Louisiana was the first state to have its abortion trigger laws blocked on Monday—at least until a hearing on July 8—after abortion providers sued arguing the bans were unlawfully vague, and Utah's was blocked soon afterwards.
A state judge in Texas issued a temporary restraining order that blocks the state's pre-Roe abortion ban from staying in effect at least for the clinics that filed the lawsuit on Monday, after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued guidance on Friday saying abortion providers could now be held criminally liable under the law.
That block is still fairly limited, though: Abortions in Texas after approximately six weeks are already banned under a separate law that's been in place since September, and the state has a trigger law in place that's set to take effect in a few weeks, which will make the pre-Roe ban irrelevant whether or not it's blocked in court.
A state judge in Kentucky issued a restraining order on Thursday that blocks both the state's total ban on abortion and a separate ban on the procedure after approximately six weeks, which will remain in place at least until a court hearing scheduled for July 6.
What To Watch For
More state court rulings and lawsuits. Abortion providers and Democratic politicians have also filed lawsuits against abortion bans in Idaho , Wisconsin , West Virginia , Oklahoma and Mississippi that have taken effect or are scheduled to take effect in the absence of Roe, and those challenges remain pending. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) has also asked that state's Supreme Court to put a six-week ban back in effect, teeing up a legal battle over that law. Leaders at the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights, which have been largely behind the abortion ban lawsuits, told reporters Friday they intend to file additional litigation in the days to come.
"Every additional day, every additional hour that we can block a ban is making a huge difference for the patients in the waiting room," Nancy Northup, CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, told reporters Friday, saying providers' immediate priority is to preserve abortion access in states "for as long as we can."
While state courts are increasingly blocking abortion bans, federal courts are allowing other states' bans to take effect. In addition to Ohio , judges in South Carolina , Tennessee and Alabama have so far allowed state-level bans on the procedure to be reinstated, after previously blocking them when Roe was still the law of the land and abortion was legal on the federal level. Officials in Georgia have also asked a federal court to reinstate that state's six-week ban.
A state judge in Florida said Thursday he will at least temporarily block the state's 15-week abortion ban, which was enacted and challenged in court prior to the Supreme Court's decision. The law took effect Friday despite the order, as Leon County Judge John Cooper said his decision will only take effect once a written order is issued, likely on Tuesday. The Florida government is then expected to immediately appeal the order, which will stay Cooper's decision and put the law back in effect. Republicans in the state passed the law despite the fact the Florida Supreme Court has upheld abortion rights in the state constitution, and abortion rights advocates fear the state court will overturn that precedent and give the state license to ban abortion.
State officials whose laws are being challenged have stood by their abortion bans. "We are fully prepared to defend these laws in our state courts, just as we have in our federal courts," Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said in a statement Monday, accusing the abortion providers of using "scare tactics," and Utah AG Sean Reyes told the Salt Lake Tribune Monday before the abortion law was blocked that his office "will do its duty to defend the state law against any and all potential legal challenges."
The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, giving states license to fully ban the procedure as justices declared the landmark 1973 decision "egregiously wrong." The court's ruling triggered 13 states' abortion bans —many of which have now taken effect, though some won't for a few weeks after the decision—and the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute projects 26 states will ultimately ban or severely restrict the procedure. While abortion is now able to be outlawed under federal law, abortion providers' focus is to now target the bans in state courts, arguing that even if the U.S. Constitution doesn't protect abortion rights, they are still protected under state Constitutions and thus can't be banned despite the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling.
While most state lawsuits have argued the abortion trigger bans violate state constitutions and the civil rights they provide for, Louisiana abortion providers had to instead only argue the state's laws are unlawfully vague because they can't make other arguments under the state constitution. Louisiana voters approved a ballot measure in 2020 stating, "Nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion"—one of four states whose constitutions explicitly do not protect abortion rights, along with Alabama, Tennessee and West Virginia.
Supreme Court's abortion ruling sets off new court fights (Associated Press)
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