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New lawsuit seeks to block Ohio's abortion ban: 'Many Ohioans will be forced to give birth against their will'

The lawsuit argues the bill 'radically restricts access to abortion in Ohio by lowering the gestational age limit from 22 weeks to approximately six weeks.'

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published in a previous Roe v. Wade reaction story from June 28, 2022.

Just days after the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in a historic decision, multiple groups have come together to file a lawsuit in the Ohio Supreme Court “seeking to block the state’s six-week ban on abortion and to restore and further protect Ohioans’ reproductive rights secured by the Ohio Constitution.”

Those included in the lawsuit are:

  • The American Civil Liberties Union
  • ACLU of Ohio
  • Planned Parenthood Federation of America
  • WilmerHale law firm

NOTE: You can read the full lawsuit at the bottom of this story.

Their lawsuit comes after a federal judge in Ohio granted the state’s request to allow the previously blocked six-week abortion ban – also known as the “heartbeat bill” – to take effect. The suit argues the bill “radically restricts access to abortion in Ohio by lowering the gestational age limit from 22 weeks to approximately six weeks, with very limited exceptions.”

RELATED: Ohio's 'Heartbeat' law now in effect after federal court lifts injunction

Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published in a previous story regarding Ohio's "heartbeat bill" on June 24, 2022.

A press release says the lawsuit was filed on behalf of Preterm-Cleveland, Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio, Planned Parenthood Greater Ohio, Women’s Med Group Professional Corporation, Northeast Ohio Women’s Center, Toledo Women’s Center and Dr. Sharon Liner, an individual abortion provider, to restore access to abortion in Ohio after six weeks and protect the right to abortion in our state under the Ohio Constitution.

“This sweeping measure, which prevents nearly every pregnant person from accessing essential care, is blatantly unconstitutional under Ohio’s state constitution which has broad protections for individual liberties,” said Freda Levenson, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio. “We ask the Ohio Supreme Court to stop enforcement of Senate Bill 23. Absent action from the court, many Ohioans will be forced to give birth against their will, many will have illegal or dangerous abortions, and some will die. People of color and low-income communities, who comprise the majority of patients seeking abortions, will be disproportionately impacted. We’ll keep fighting for abortion rights until every Ohioan is able to access the healthcare they need.”

Ohio’s heartbeat law took effect last Friday.

RELATED: Can Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O'Malley legally refuse to enforce abortion ban?

“As the federal district court found when it blocked Senate Bill 23 from taking effect in 2019, the ban poses an ‘insurmountable’ obstacle to abortion access, restricting care to such an early stage of pregnancy that most patients do not even know they are pregnant,” according to the group involved with the lawsuit. “It is currently inflicting serious and irreparable harm on Ohioans who are in need of and constitutionally entitled to vital reproductive health care.”

Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis issued the following statement Wednesday morning in response to the lawsuit: 

"The Ohio Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction in mandamus cases where, as here, there is an adequate remedy at law through a declaratory judgement and injunction action in a common pleas court—wholly apart from the meritless nature of the Complaint.

"Clearly, the Plaintiffs believe there is a pro-abortion majority on the Ohio Supreme Court that likely will be lost this November.

"Thus, Plaintiffs do not want to file in a Common Pleas Court but want the current Supreme Court to declare a fake right to an abortion in Ohio right now.

"In making that request, Plaintiffs are asking the Ohio Supreme Court Justices to violate the constitutional limits of its jurisdiction, in violation of their oaths of office.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost released a statement on the ACLU Lawsuit filed with the Ohio Supreme Court as well: 

"Races don't start at the finish line, and lawsuits don't start in the final court. Aside from filing the wrong action in the wrong court, they are wrong as well on Ohio law. Abortion is not in the Ohio Constitution."  

Additional statements from those involved with filing the lawsuit:

  • Iris Harvey, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Greater Ohio and Kersha Deibel, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio: “It has been just over three days since the U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, and four days since Ohioans had their right to abortion stripped away, and limited to just six weeks of pregnancy. It’s hard not to lose hope in a moment like this. But we need to keep going, to fight for Ohioans to get the healthcare they need and deserve when they need it — and Planned Parenthood will be right with you in that fight. Let’s get to work.”
  • Jessie Hill, cooperating attorney for the ACLU of Ohio: “Right now, Ohio patients seeking care beyond six weeks are forced to travel hundreds of miles to access abortion, carry pregnancies to term against their will, or seek care outside the medical system. Senate Bill 23 was blocked for nearly three years, and after being in effect for just a few days, the real-world ramifications are horrific. This law must be stopped."
  • Meagan Burrows, Staff Attorney at the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project: “The Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs is disastrous and devastating for tens of millions of patients across the country. But it hardly gives states like Ohio a free pass from abiding by their own constitutions. We are committed to protecting as many people as possible from the traumatic experience of forced pregnancy, the consequences of which can last an entire lifetime and put the health and lives of everyday Ohioans at risk. With this filing, we are calling for the return of the basic humanity that was stolen.”

Here's the full complaint as filed with the court:

RELATED: 'Let us respect each other': Gov. Mike DeWine holds statewide address after Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade

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