COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The Ohio Supreme Court will review a Cincinnati judge’s decision to temporarily block the state’s six-week abortion ban and determine whether abortion clinics can sue on behalf of their patients.
In a victory for Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, the state Supreme Court announced Tuesday it will review whether Hamilton County Judge Christian Jenkins acted rightfully when he issued a preliminary injunction against Senate Bill 23, commonly known as heartbeat law, which bans abortion once fetal cardiac activity is detected. The conservative-majority court will also consider whether abortion providers have standing to challenge the law.
The court, however, said it will not consider whether abortion is protected by the Ohio Constitution. Today, the procedure remains legal up to 20 weeks’ gestation.
Yost asked the court to review the case on Jan. 3, a few weeks after he unsuccessfully petitioned First District Court of Appeals Judge Pierre Bergeron to do the same. In his December ruling, Bergeron said his court could not rule on the matter until Jenkins issued a final, binding decision in Hamilton County.
“We appreciate that many citizens may be interested in the resolution of the merits of this appeal, but we cannot expand our jurisdiction simply because the case is a significant one,” Judge Pierre Bergeron wrote. “In light of the foregoing analysis, we must dismiss this appeal.”
In his appeal to the Supreme Court, Yost argued that Bergeron’s ruling would set a dangerous precedent, leaving the state with no way to protect itself “from egregiously wrong preliminary injunctions.”
The court also accepted Yost’s request that it review a second question: whether abortion clinics and physicians who perform abortions have a right to sue Senate Bill 23 on behalf of individual patients.
Jessie Hill, lead counsel for the ACLU of Ohio in the case, said her client and other plaintiffs were pleased the court rejected Yost’s motion that it consider whether the six-week abortion ban is constitutional. But, abortion in Ohio “is still in peril with this ruling,” she said.
“If the court rules against the plaintiffs, especially on the second issue, that could still result in the injunction on the six-week ban being lifted and that law going into effect,” Hill said.
NBC4 has reached out to Yost’s office for comment.
The court’s current makeup favors Republicans 4-3. Republicans Chief Justice Sharon Kennedy, Justices R. Patrick DeWine, Patrick Fischer and Twelfth District Court of Appeals Judge Matthew Bryne will preside on the bench, alongside Democratic Justices Michael Donnelly, Melody Stewart and Jennnifer Brunner.
Byrne will sit in for Justice Joe Deters, who recused himself from the case in January over his connection to the pending lawsuit. Deters, as the former Hamilton County prosecutor, was named as a defendant in the case challenging the state’s enforcement of the six-week abortion ban.
The court has yet to establish a date to review the case.