Mason's Abortion Ban 'Emergency' Legislation Fails, Council to Reconsider in Two Weeks

Abortions are still legal in Mason — for now.

Oct 12, 2021 at 2:34 pm
click to enlarge Mason is considering banning abortions within the city limits. - Photo: Gayatri Malhotra, Unsplash
Photo: Gayatri Malhotra, Unsplash
Mason is considering banning abortions within the city limits.

Abortions are still legal in Mason — for now.

During Monday's Mason City Council meeting, council members voted down legislation that would completely ban abortion unless there's a "life-threatening physical condition," as well as prohibit abortion providers from establishing practices within Mason and encourage prosecution of those who support abortions through funding, transportation and more.

Mason currently has no abortion providers.

The legislation was proposed as an "emergency" and, if approved, the abortion ban would have taken hold immediately with no public challenges.

But after four hours, Mason City Council members didn't pass the motion to vote on the ban. The proposal also will not go onto the ballot for a public vote.

The council will next meet on Oct. 25 and will decide then if there's another path to the ban.

A number of cities around the United States have approved or are considering severe abortion bans and restrictions, including in nearby Lebanon. That city council in May passed an ordinance similar to Mason's proposed ban. The ACLU of Ohio said Lebanon's legislation is “blatantly unconstitutional” and ripe for legal challenge.

“Anti-abortion politicians in Lebanon have no business interfering in people’s lives and health care,” ACLU of Ohio legal director Freda Levenson said at the time.

After the ordinance passed earlier this month, the ACLU placed a billboard in South Lebanon saying “abortion is legal in all of Ohio" because, regardless of the ban, abortion remains legal in the state up to 20 weeks gestation.

A recent Texas law outlaws abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, but also goes a step further by allowing regular citizens to sue abortion providers and those who help a woman obtain an abortion. The law provides no exception in instances of rape or incest.

The U.S. Supreme Court soon will hear a case involving Mississippi's 2018 law that outlawed abortions after 15 weeks. The outcome could affect the long-standing Roe v. Wade decision and, subsequently, legislation and healthcare throughout the country, including in Ohio.

Abortion advocates within the Buckeye State continue to battle new rounds of legislation aimed to restrict the practice. Earlier this year, the Satanic Temple filed a letter with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration arguing that its Texas members should have legal access to abortion pills. The group's attorneys contend that its status as a non-theistic religious organization should ensure access to abortion as a faith-based right. 

In the letter, the Temple argues that abortion pills Misoprostol and Mifepristone should be available for its use through the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which protects Native Americans' use of peyote in religious rituals. The Temple says those same rights should apply to the drugs it uses for its own rituals. 

Recently, a Hamilton County judge blocked a 2020 law that targeted medication abortions via telemedicine. In April of this year, the judge said the state couldn’t ban medication abortions administered through telemedicine “until final judgment is entered in this case.”

The same judge, in the same week, blocked an Ohio law regulating surgical abortion tissue disposal because the state had not created the forms, rules or regulations needed for those disposal regulations.

On April 5, Governor Mike DeWine signed an executive order bypassing the legal tangle-up and suspending “the normal rule-making procedures” and permitting the Ohio Department of Health to immediately adopt rules related to the tissue disposal law.

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