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Future of abortion access in Ohio uncertain in wake of leaked Supreme Court draft

Right now, the state has a 20-week abortion ban, a potential six-week ban on hold in federal court, and more active legislation.

CLEVELAND — With so many questions surrounding the future of abortion access, Ohio's controversial heartbeat bill now comes into focus again.

If Roe v. Wade was overturned today the state's current 20-week abortion ban would stay in place, but it would urge Gov. Mike DeWine and Attorney General Yost to take action on the administration's 2019 "heartbeat bill" currently being held up in federal court.

"I'm asking him to go into federal court and ask the court to lift the stay that is on the bill that I have already signed," DeWine said Tuesday after his victory in Ohio's Republican gubernatorial primary.

That bill prohibits abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detectable. Jessie Hill with the Case Western Reserve University School of Law says if the stay is lifted, the impact wouldn't necessarily be immediate.

"There may be additional legal measures that can go into effect," Hill explained, "but if it goes into effect, it essentially means that abortion would become inaccessible in Ohio after about six weeks of pregnancy."

DeWine didn't comment on possible future legislation, but did re-assert his long-held pro-life, anti-abortion views.

"I believe we have an obligation to protect the most vulnerable members of our society," the governor said.

Ohio does not currently have a trigger law, in other words, law that would ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Senate Bill 123 and House Bill 598 could change that if passed by the General Assembly.

"There's a lot of uncertainty right now about what it's going to look like in the weeks and months after this decision," Hill noted. "Of course, nothing changes right now. It's just a draft."

In that Supreme Court draft opinion confirmed by Chief Justice John Roberts to be authentic, Justice Samuel Alito stated the decision shouldn't change any other laws decided because of Roe. However, Hill does believe it could become a factor in other issues like same-sex marriage and access to contraception.


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