The order blocking enforcement of an Ohio abortion ban stands after the high court dismisses appeal

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Supreme Court has dismissed the state’s challenge to a judge’s order that has blocked enforcement of Ohio’s near-ban on abortion for the past 14 months.

The Ohio Supreme Court building from the outside
The Ohio Supreme Court building in Columbus. [Daniel Konik | Statehouse News Bureau]
The ruling moves action in the case back to Hamilton County Common Pleas, where abortion clinics asked Judge Christian Jenkins this week to throw out the law following voters’ decision to approve enshrining abortion rights in the state constitution.

The high court on Friday said the appeal was “ dismissed due to a change in the law.”

The justices in March agreed to review a county judge’s order that blocked enforcement of the abortion restriction and to consider whether clinics had legal standing to challenge the law. They ultimately denied Republican Attorney General Dave Yost’s request that they launch their own review of the constitutional right to abortion, leaving such arguments for a lower court.

The clinics asked Jenkins on Thursday to block the abortion ban permanently on the heels of the amendment Ohio voters approved last month that ensures access to abortion and other reproductive health care.

A law signed by Republican Gov. Mike DeWine in April 2019 prohibited most abortions after the first detectable “fetal heartbeat.” Cardiac activity can be detected as early as six weeks into pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant.

The ban, initially blocked through a federal legal challenge, briefly went into effect when the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision was overturned last year. It was then placed back on hold in county court, as part of a subsequent lawsuit challenging it as unconstitutional under the state constitution.

Yost’s office referred to a statement from Dec. 7 that “the state is prepared to acknowledge the will of the people on the issue, but also to carefully review each part of the law for an orderly resolution of the case.”

The abortion providers asked the lower court that initially blocked the ban to permanently strike it down. They cited Yost’s own legal analysis, circulated before the vote, that stated that passage of the amendment would invalidate the state’s six-week ban, stating, “Ohio would no longer have the ability to limit abortions at any time before a fetus is viable.”