Judge Blocks Ohio 'Heartbeat' Bill

An unconstitutional “undue burden” on a woman’s right to get an abortion

Last Wednesday, a federal judge blocked the heartbeat bill in Ohio . The heartbeat bill aims to ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected. U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett gave a preliminary injunction and said that the law would place an unconstitutional “undue burden” on the woman’s right to get an abortion.

All of this means that a law which was supposed to go into effect on July 11 is now on hold. Ohio’s Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed the law in April which aims to prevent women from obtaining a legal abortion after the fetus’s heartbeat can be heard which is usually after about six weeks of pregnancy. This is usually before many women become aware that they are pregnant.

While the law does have exceptions in place for cases of the threat of death or “irreversible impairment” of a pregnant woman, there are no exceptions for pregnancies which result from incest or rape.

A month after the law was passed, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of many local abortion providers as well as Planned Parenthood sued the state. The ACLU argues that the law violates the U.S. Supreme Court precedent, which establishes a constitutional right to abortion but also prohibits abortion laws which place an “undue burden” for women to have the procedure.

As already mentioned, Judge Michael Barrett of the U.S. District Court issued a temporary block on the law which will stay in effect until the case is resolved. He also wrote that the ACLU is “certain to succeed.”

Barrett has written a “women with irregular periods likely will be denied the opportunity to seek an abortion altogether because she will not realize that she is pregnant in time to choose her fate.” The law also would put doctors who perform an abortion after detecting a heartbeat in prison for up to a year.

Chrisse France, executive director of Preterm-Cleveland, said that Ohioans deserved the right to access abortion which is affordable, safe and without judgment or shame. France added that they would continue to fight for all people who can become pregnant to have access to abortion care and to make the decisions that they believe are best for their lives.

This year, six other states have passed similar bills. However, there hasn’t been any heartbeat bill which has gone into effect as lawsuits have blocked them.

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