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Appeals court upholds block on Ohio's abortion ban

A person in a red shirt stands at a microphone stand speaking to over a hundred protesters hold signs in support of abortion access
Becca Costello
People rallied in support of abortion access in front of the Hamilton County Courthouse in May 2022.

Ohio's First District Court of Appeals on Friday denied a challenge by the state to appeal a preliminary injunction granted in October that blocked the state's six-week abortion ban.

That preliminary injunction granted by the Hamilton County Common Pleas Court put a hold on the so-called "heartbeat" bill and reinstated Ohio's previous abortion law, which allows the procedure to take place up to 22 weeks of pregnancy.

The most recent denial of the state's appeal means the six-week abortion ban will remain blocked indefinitely until a final decision is made in a trial sometime next year.

After Friday's decision, Ohio Right to Life tweeted it is confident the Ohio Supreme Court will rule in its favor.

"Regardless of what transpires at the lower courts, OH heartbeat law will ultimately be decided by the OH Supreme Court in 2023…We are confident OH highest court will rule that nowhere in OH Constitution does a right to an abortion exist," read a statement attributed to Ohio Right to Life President Michael Gonidakis.

Case Western Reserve University law professor Jessie Hill, who volunteers as legal council for the ACLU of Ohio, says this decision will make accessing abortion in in the state a little bit easier for the time being.

"Studies have suggested that close to 90% of people were accessing abortions after six weeks of pregnancy in Ohio," Hill said. "Twenty-two weeks of pregnancy is roughly a little more than halfway through a pregnancy, but certainly gives much more time for people who need to travel to make multiple trips to pull together the funds, the childcare, the time off work, etc. in order to seek care."

Even with the court denying the state's appeal, Hill says access to abortion is still relatively difficult in Ohio as few clinics remain in the state. Abortion rights advocates can't call this a victory until a final decision is made following a trial at least several months from now, and the legal battle has made some people hesitant to access care.

"I'm an attorney, I practice in this area, I study this area, and it's a lot for me to keep up with," Hill said. "We know a lot of people still think abortion is illegal in Ohio."

A more permanent ruling on abortion in the state is expected to come in 2023. Hill says no matter what is eventually decided, she expects either side to appeal the result if it does not go their way.

Zack Carreon is Education reporter for WVXU, covering local school districts and higher education in the Tri-State area.