COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is asking a Hamilton County judge deciding the legality of the state’s ban on abortion after six weeks to dismiss the case, which would let that ban stand. That’s even though voters approved an amendment guaranteeing abortion and reproductive rights in November.
On Friday, Yost asked Judge Christian Jenkins to dismiss the case, but his 16-page filing didn’t include specifics of what parts of the six-week ban could still be constitutional.
The Ohio Supreme Court sent that case back to that court after voters approved an amendment guaranteeing the right to abortion but that the state could prohibit it—with exceptions—after viability, or around 24 weeks.
“It’s really pretty disappointing to see,” said Jessie Hill, who represents Ohio’s abortion clinics, which filed the lawsuit before Issue 1 passed. “I really don’t think this is the best use of anyone’s time at this point to keep fighting over the constitutionality of the six-week ban. Honestly, this shouldn’t even be a question. It shouldn’t be even a case at this point anymore.”
Yost said in a brief filed when the case was before the Ohio Supreme Court that Issue 1 makes the six-week ban unconstitutional. But he had argued the court should continue to hear the case because there are other non-abortion related issues involved.
And Hill noted that Yost had addressed the six-week ban, which its Republican supporters had called the “heartbeat law”, in a legal analysis of Issue 1 released by his office in October.
That section of the analysis reads: “The Heartbeat Act would not exist if Issue 1 passes. Ohio would no longer have the ability to limit abortions at any time before a fetus is viable. Viability is generally thought to be around 21 or 22 weeks. Passage of Issue 1 would invalidate the Heartbeat Act, which restricts abortions (with health and other exceptions) after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is usually at about six weeks. No other pre-viability limit would be allowed.”“At one point, Attorney General Yost himself had acknowledged this in writing that the six week ban would be gone if Issue 1 passed,” Hill said. “And now it’s unclear but it seems like he at least thinks some part of it can survive.”
Yost had also said during the campaign against Issue 1 last fall that if it were approved, the six-week ban wouldn’t exist.
At a gathering at Ohio Republican Party headquarters before early voting began in October, Yost said, “Somebody actually said this – “I’m not really worried about Issue 1 because we’ll still have the ‘heartbeat bill’.” No, we won’t.”
Hill said the abortion providers are planning to file a motion to ask for a ruling in their favor, to try to end the case quickly without a trial.