The Ohio Court of Appeals for the First District Friday rejected the state of Ohio’s request to remove an injunction against its anti-abortion law. The court rejected the claim on jurisdictional grounds. It made no statement on the merits of the claim, but rather argued that the appellate court lacked jurisdiction to overturn the preliminary injunction. The act will not be enforced at least until the case is fully decided on the merits.
Ohio’s so-called Heartbeat Act was passed in 2019 and took effect after the US Supreme Court ruled in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization that there is no constitutional right to abortion in the US. The law criminalised abortions where there is cardiac activity in the foetus and imposed a duty upon doctors to determine whether such cardiac activity is present. In September the Hamilton County Court imposed an injunction against the act, arguing it potentially breached rights to abortion under the Ohio Constitution and was unlawful due to its discrimination against pregnant women. In light of the possibility of the Heartbeat Act being unlawful, and the fact that the plaintiffs would likely suffer irreparable harm, the court placed an injunction upon the law’s enforcement. The state immediately appealed the injunction.
This case is part of a larger swathe of legal battles happening across the US in the fight for abortion rights following Dobbs. The results of the litigation, in both Ohio and in other states, remains to be seen.