With U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, Ohio expected to outlaw most abortions

COLUMBUS, Ohio — As expected, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday, leaving the question of whether a woman has abortion rights to the states.

Ohio is one of the states expected to make abortion illegal under most circumstances. Today, women cannot have an abortion up to 20 weeks post-fertilization, or about 22 weeks as measured by physicians, due to a law passed in 2016 by the legislature.

Gov. Mike DeWine previously said he would ask Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, a fellow Republican who also opposes abortion rights, to request a federal judge stop blocking a state law that prohibits abortions when a “heartbeat” is detected, which can be as early as six weeks before many women know they are pregnant.

A judge blocked the heartbeat law nearly three years ago, ruling it violates Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which are earlier Supreme Court decisions that generally granted women the right to an abortion nationwide, regardless of state laws.

Shortly before 11 a.m. Friday, Yost’s office had already filed an emergency motion to dissolve the court’s injunction.

It’s unclear whether the Ohio General Assembly, which is on a recess, would convene sometime this summer or wait until November, when members return to Columbus for regular sessions and committee meetings, to pass an abortion ban.

Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman released a statement after the decision was released saying he anticipated reading it, and it will inform what he thinks an Ohio abortion ban should look like.

“Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of life and liberty,” said Huffman, a Lima Republican. “Our members have consistently defended the lives of babies yet to be born. We will continue to do so, as we evaluate what additional resources pregnancy centers and young families may need. I look forward to reviewing the specific details in the opinion, so that as we move forward, any legislation we pass in the Ohio Senate follows the guidance of the court, protecting life, and upholding the Constitution. Today, we celebrate a long overdue turning point in our nation’s history.”

State Rep. Allison Russo, a Columbus-area Democrat who is the House minority leader, said that her party will not stop fighting for abortion rights, despite Friday’s setback.

“I am extremely concerned about what this ruling means for women, especially in Ohio where Statehouse Republicans have prioritized banning abortion, punishing women and throwing doctors in jail. Criminalizing health care will only put peoples’ lives in danger,” Russo said.

Yost, the Republican attorney general, said in a statement that Roe was poorly reasoned and he’s happy the Supreme Court overturned it.

Yost is also concerned about violence at crisis pregnancy centers.

“We will continue to debate this issue,” he said. “But passion is not a license to violence. I call again on my federal colleague, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and my fellow states’ attorneys general to publicly commit to holding violent protesters accountable under the law, no matter which side they are on.”

Today, there are nine abortion clinics in the state. Around 20,000 abortions are performed each year. Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said a statewide abortion ban would disproportionately hurt Black, Indigenous and other people of color, the young, people with disabilities, LGBTQ and non-binary people, and those living in Appalachia and other rural communities.

“If you want to know who’s to blame for this attack on our basic human rights, look at Governor Mike DeWine and members of the Republican Party,” Copeland said. “They have spent decades methodically passing legislation and litigating cases to dismantle Roe v. Wade and destroy protections for our bodily autonomy, access to abortion, contraception, and comprehensive sex education. In Ohio, they gerrymandered their way into power and have defied the Ohio Constitution, the Supreme Court of Ohio, and the majority of Ohio voters in a desperate attempt to hold onto that power. They intend to rule Ohioans, not represent us. We must not submit to that tyranny.”

Polling in recent years has shown the majority of Ohioans support abortion rights. That includes a poll released two weeks ago by Suffolk University and the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Of all likely voters polled, 53% of respondents wanted to protect abortion rights in Ohio, while 39% want the state legislature to restrict abortions.

Nearly six in ten voters (59%) said they personally know a family member or friend who has had an abortion, the poll found.