Ohio judge Alison Hatheway granted a preliminary injunction on Thursday which temporarily blocks an Ohio law banning telemedicine abortions. In a case against the Ohio Department of Health, Planned Parenthood challenged the constitutionality of Ohio Senate Bill 260, which was set to go into effect on Monday, and would institute felony criminal charges for medical providers who provide medication abortion through telemedicine.
Telemedicine is the practice of a patient engaging with a health care provider over audio or video calls while the parties are distant from one another, and its practice became even more pervasive during the coronavirus pandemic. Telemedicine medication abortion (TMAB) allows patients to take a series of two pills from home to complete the abortion, under the care of a medical professional from a distance. According to the complaint, “[i]t is safe and effective, well-liked by patients, and successful at expanding abortion access to underserved areas and reducing travel and related burdens on patients.”
In Planned Parenthood’s complaint for injunctive relief, they stated, “Absent an injunction, SB 260 will impose grave and irreparable harm on Plaintiffs and their patients and violate their rights to equal protection, substantive due process, and free choice in health care under the Ohio Constitution.”
The temporary block is effective for two weeks, and a longer-term decision will be made on April 19.
The preliminary injunction follows Hatheway’s grant of another injunction for Planned Parenthood on April 5, which temporarily restrained a bill requiring that fetal remains from abortions be cremated or buried.