After the U.S. Supreme Court takes no action and allows a Texas abortion ban to go into effect, many in Southwestern Ohio are concerned something similar could happen here.
The new Texas law outlaws abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, but then also goes a step further by allowing regular citizens to sue abortion providers and those who helped a woman obtain an abortion. The law provides no exception in instances of rape or incest.
One nearby Ohio city has already declared itself a “sanctuary city for the unborn." Warren County’s Lebanon City Council passed such an ordinance in May, an ordinance the ACLU of Ohio said is “blatantly unconstitutional,” and ripe for legal challenge.
According to an article by the Cincinnati Enquirer, "The ordinance makes it illegal to provide an abortion, aid an abortion, provide money or transportation for an abortion, and provide instructions for an abortion within the city limits of Lebanon."
Violating the law is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. There are no exceptions for instances of rape or incest, but there are loopholes for ectopic pregnancies or a miscarriage.
According to Aileen Day, communications director for Planned Parenthood, the city of Mason is also considering such a law.
"The City Council in Mason, Ohio is thinking about banning abortion and taking notes from Texas, creating language that would invite anti-abortion extremists to sue a provider or a person who helped make an abortion possible," she writes in an email.
Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region President & CEO Kersha Deibel also shares her concern about the parallels between Texas and Ohio.
“Texas’ Senate Bill 8 is devastating to the people of Texas. It has also opened a new chapter in the anti-abortion attack strategy. Guided by extremists in Texas, several cities in Ohio like Lebanon and Mason have started not only banning abortion within their city but writing in careful language that invites anti-abortion extremists across the country to sue people who help people get an abortion," she said in an emailed statement. "We stand with the people of Texas and with people everywhere trying to access abortion care.”
On Sept. 1 and Sept. 2, Planned Parenthood will be driving around Cincinnati with a billboard that says "Bans Off Our Bodies." They are also hosting a virtual conversation 5 p.m. Sept. 1 — "TX to OH — Bans Off Our Bodies" — to connect the Texas law to recent abortion legislation and discussion here. Attend/RSVP at weareplannedparenthoodaction.org.
“We have seen anti-abortion groups across the country coordinate their attacks to ensure that an abortion ban in one state is felt across the country. On our National Day of Action (Sept. 1), we are shining a light on their devastating attacks by driving a mobile billboard around Cincinnati with a clear message — we represent the majority of Americans who support abortion access,” says Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio Vice President of Government Affairs & Public Advocacy Lauren Blauvelt-Copelin.
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.
A portion of this story was originally published by the Ohio Capital Journal and republished here with permission.
Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get the latest on the news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.