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Judge Blocks Ohio's 'Heartbeat' Abortion Ban

At least temporarily; his ruling halts the planned July 11 enforcement
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 3, 2019 4:54 PM CDT
In this April 11, 2019 file photo, Gov. Mike DeWine signs a bill imposing one of the nation's toughest abortion restrictions, in Columbus, OH.   (Fred Squillante/The Columbus Dispatch via AP, File)

(Newser) – A federal judge temporarily blocked an Ohio law banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected on Wednesday, siding with abortion clinics that had argued the law would effectively end the procedure in the state, the AP reports. The ruling by US District Judge Michael Barrett halts the July 11 enforcement of the so-called heartbeat law that opponents argued would effectively ban the procedure. That's because a fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks into pregnancy, before many women know they're pregnant. Ohio is among a dozen states that have considered similar legislation this year, as abortion opponents have pursued a national anti-abortion strategy to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision fueled by a conservative swing on the US Supreme Court.

Courts have already blocked substantially similar laws in Kentucky and Mississippi. Abortion providers also have sued in Alabama and Georgia. Barrett said it is his opinion that Planned Parenthood and abortion clinics represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights attorneys that sued to stop the law "are certain to succeed on the merits of their claim that (the bill) is unconstitutional on its face." "The law is well-settled that women possess a fundamental constitutional right of access to abortions," he wrote. Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed the Ohio law in April, after predecessor John Kasich, a fellow Republican, twice vetoed it. His spokesman, Dan Tierney said: "Gov. DeWine has long believed that this issue would ultimately be decided by the US Supreme Court."

(Read more heartbeat abortion bill stories.)

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