Cincinnati Judge Temporarily Blocks Ohio Abortion Ban

On Wednesday, Judge Christian A. Jenkins of the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas in Cincinnati temporarily blocked the ban placed on abortions after six weeks by Governor Mike DeWine. The ban was passed in April 2019 and went into effect following the Dobbs v. Jackson ruling. Wednesday’s restraining order permits abortions up to the 22nd week of pregnancy, which will remain in effect for at least 14 days. In his ruling, Jenkins referred to the Ohio State Constitution, citing the “health care freedom amendment” passed in 2011, in his ruling.

“No great stretch is required to find that Ohio law recognizes a fundamental right to privacy, procreation, bodily integrity and freedom of choice in health care decision making,” the lower court judge’s ruling reads. 

Students are reflecting on this restraining order within the broader context of reproductive rights in the country.

“I think we are at a scary tipping point where these cases are just going to keep going through the courts, and being stalled and then enacted again,” College fourth-year Eli Butler said. “Nothing is going to happen that will be permanent until the federal government makes a decision about it.”   

Ohio’s original Senate Bill 23, enacted in 2019, banned abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy — around the time cardiac activity is first detected. But the new ruling invalidates the bill, and in his decision, Jenkins stated that S.B. 23 constitutionally disadvantaged pregnant women. 

“S.B. 23 clearly discriminates against pregnant women and places an enormous burden on them to secure safe and effective health care such that it violates Ohio equal protection and benefit clause and is therefore unconstitutional,” Jenkins wrote. 

Results from a poll conducted by The Suffolk University/Cincinnati Enquirer in June 2022 showed that 53 percent of respondents wanted protection for abortion rights in Ohio codified into law. 

“It’s really interesting to see this happening, as a lot of things are in the news nowadays,” College first-year Mia Elkins said. “I think also coming from [Los Angeles], it’s a really strange thing to see just how completely different two states can be.”  

Oberlin students have expressed concern over how abortion restrictions impact people of different socioeconomic backgrounds.

“Abortion access is a class issue,” College first-year Lotus Lloyd said. “You have to, one, [have] the ability to afford good tracking and also be able to tap into fertility awareness strategies, which are not taught to most people. And then to get morning-after pills, to get medical abortion, get surgical abortion, you have to have money to be able to travel … to do these things.”

According to a statistics report by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services from May 2021, Ohio has more than one million children in the child support system, and a study conducted in 2010 showed that 55 percent of all pregnancies in Ohio were unintended. 

“I think that it’s definitely not fair that people who are pregnant have to be forced to carry their child to term,” College first-year Jaena Bethea said. “I think that there are many factors that go into a person’s decision to say that they don’t wanna carry their baby to term. Why are we forcing them to keep their children when they cannot even afford simple things? How are they going to take care of their children? How are they gonna buy diapers? How are they gonna afford hospital bills? How are they gonna afford to feed themselves, to feed their children?” 

Ohio has become an epicenter of new abortion laws, specifically after the overturning of Roe v. Wade. There are already multiple reports of individuals with unwanted pregnancies having to cross state lines in order to gain abortion access and care. In recent news, a 10-year-old girl who was six weeks and three days pregnant reportedly had to leave Ohio following S.B. 23’s passage in order to get an abortion, contacting an Indianapolis obstetrician-gynecologist to seek advice and refuge from the ban. 

“I just don’t like the fact that as humans, we have to fight for human rights,” College first-year Mia Knox said. “It doesn’t sit right with me that someone else who doesn’t even know me personally feels the right to say what I can do with my body — or any other [person with a uterus], for that matter. I can’t even imagine people who are actually here right now going through unwanted pregnancies or things like sexual assault, and they feel like they’re powerless. It makes me a little angry that we still have to go through this. It feels like there’s always something.” 

The Dayton Daily News reports that the Women’s Med Center in Kettering, Ohio, a city only a couple of hours away from Oberlin, saw a surge of patients in their clinic on Thursday, more than 30 of whom sought abortion care and support. Political candidates — particularly Tim Ryan, a pro-choice candidate for U.S. Senate — are also increasingly urging their supporters to take to the polls. 

“I’m proud to have the support of @NARAL, and to be an ally in the fight to protect abortion rights and reproductive freedom,” Ryan wrote in a Twitter statement in February. “In the Senate, I’ll keep working to #PassWHPA and codify Roe, and to keep the heavy hand of government out of Ohioans’ health care decisions.”