The Planned Parenthood Federation of America, along with state and local chapters of the women's health organization and an affiliated Dayton clinic called the Women's Med Center, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the state of Ohio over abortion restrictions state lawmakers passed last December.
House Bill 145 banned so-called "dilation and evacuation" procedures, which are used in roughly 95 percent of second-trimester abortions — those taking place between 15-20 weeks after conception. The procedures are sometimes also undertaken after a woman has a miscarriage. Under the law, doctors performing the procedures could be charged with fourth-degree felonies and sentenced to a year and a half in prison. The law makes limited exceptions when a pregnancy presents a risk of death or serious injury.
The procedure accounted for roughly 3,400 of Ohio's more than 20,000 abortions in 2017. During the second trimester, the only alternative to the outlawed procedure is inducing labor, an expensive and more arduous option.
Pro-life groups have applauded the passage of the bill, while advocates for abortion access have called it unconstitutional and cited opposition from physician groups like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
“As a doctor, I know how important it is for patients to work with their doctors to choose the best medical procedure for their individual medical situation," Planned Parenthood Federation of America's Leana Wen said in a statement. "Medical decision-making must be free from political interference. This ban has no basis in medicine — it is opposed by medical organizations and will cause harm to women in Ohio. Abortion is part of the full spectrum of reproductive health care, which is health care, and Planned Parenthood will always safeguard the ability of our patients to access safe, legal abortion, no matter what."
Nine other states have passed similar laws, some of which have been rejected by courts in Alabama, Arkansas, Texas and elsewhere after legal challenges.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed Ohio's bill into law late last year before leaving office, though he vetoed an even stricter "heartbeat bill" that would have outlawed abortions as early as six weeks after conception. Lawmakers missed overriding Kasich's veto by two votes in the state Senate and have reintroduced the legislation under new Gov. Mike DeWine, who has indicated he will sign it into law.
Both pro-life and pro-choice advocates have identified such legal restrictions — 20 of which Ohio has passed under Kasich and now DeWine — as attempts to trigger a court battle that could topple Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that affirmed women's rights to abortion access.
Abortion opponents criticized Planned Parenthood's lawsuit.
"It's hard to imagine how Planned Parenthood could be in support of a procedure which allows living unborn babies to be ripped limb from limb," Ohio Right to Life said in a statement. "At what point will the court reject Planned Parenthood's frivolous lawsuits?"