ShareThis Page
Judge blocks part of Ohio ban on abortion procedure | TribLIVE.com
U.S./World

Judge blocks part of Ohio ban on abortion procedure

Associated Press
1047861_web1_1047861-fc75fff94fd24a54a359f2fcd0aae629
AP
Gov. Mike DeWine, seen here April 11, 2019, speaks before signing a bill imposing one of the nation’s toughest abortion restrictions in Columbus, Ohio. A federal judge has blocked part of an Ohio law that bans the abortion method of dilation and evacuation in most cases.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A federal judge blocked part of an Ohio law late Thursday that bans the abortion method of dilation and evacuation in most cases, adding to a list of restrictions on the procedure that are or soon could be in legal limbo.

Senior U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett in Cincinnati ordered the state not to bring criminal charges against doctors who perform the D&E procedure until the case can be fully litigated. Other parts of the law were allowed to proceed.

The ruling comes as the state’s ban of abortions in cases involving a Down Syndrome diagnosis also is before the courts, and the ACLU plans a court challenge to a heartbeat abortion ban signed last week.

The ban on D&Es, the most common second-trimester abortion procedure, was signed by then-Gov. John Kasich (KAY’-sihk) last year. In Thursday’s ruling, Barrett agreed with Planned Parenthood the law is likely to be declared unconstitutional because it places an undue burden on a “large fraction” of Ohio women.

Dr. Leana Wen, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, called the ruling a victory for patients’ rights.

“This ban has no basis in medicine, which is why it has been opposed by the medical community,” she said in an emailed statement. “Women’s health care is health care. Reproductive health care is health care. And health care is a fundamental human right. Planned Parenthood will always safeguard the ability of our patients to access safe, legal abortion, no matter what.”

Emails seeking comment were sent to spokespeople for Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and Ohio Right to Life.

The Ohio law defines D&E as “dismemberment abortion” of a living fetus. Barrett agreed with the plaintiffs that such language creates an “implicit fetal demise” requirement in the law — forcing doctors who perform the procedure to either end the life of a living fetus before conducting the abortion — which can be dangerous, ineffective or both — or not offering the D&E abortion at all.

“D&E is the only pre-viability second trimester abortion method available in the outpatient setting in Ohio,” Barrett wrote. “Without the option of selecting a different method, or the ability to rely on a sufficiently broad medical exception, physicians who perform D&E are presented with a series of (fetal) demise options that layer risks on top of existing risks” — legally for doctors, and physically for their patients.

The state argued those risks are mitigated by an exception written into the law for the life of the mother or “serious risk” to her health.

Barrett rejected that argument, writing, “the medical exception is narrowly drafted at best, and unconstitutionally vague at worst.”

He said graphic and unsettling descriptions of abortion procedures were necessary to include in his ruling, because preventing fetal pain is at the heart of efforts to restrict the procedure. Barrett said the general consensus of the medical community is that a fetus cannot feel pain before about 24 weeks’ gestation, when neural connections to the cortex develop.

Still, he said the state of Ohio’s interest in the case is legitimate.

“(T)he Court finds it unlikely that pre-viability fetuses feel pain,” he wrote. “The Court recognizes, however, the State’s interest in this area to prevent even the possibility.”

Categories: News | World
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.