ACLU sues Ohio officials over abortion restrictions written into state budget

[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed suit on Wednesday challenging the inclusion of three abortion-related amendments in the state budget [HB 59] passed in June. Filed on behalf of a Cleveland-based women's health clinic, the ACLU claims that the amendments violate a state constitution provision known as the "single subject rule." According to the Article II, Section 15(D) [text] of the Ohio Constitution, "No bill shall contain more than one subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its title." The ACLU contends that the amendments related to abortion have no place in the state budget bill [Reuters report]. Specifically, the amendments require clinics, in the event that the fetus carries a detectable heartbeat, to inform the pregnant mother of the heartbeat as well as the statistical probability of bringing the unborn child to term based on the gestational age. The ACLU also claims that the amendments bar clinics from making agreements to move women needing emergency care to public hospitals, while also creating a new program that gives state money to private groups which are forbidden from discussing abortion services. Ohio Governor John Kasich [official website], a named defendant in the lawsuit, made no mention of the amendments in a press release [text] issued after his signing of the budget bill in late June.

Since taking office in 2010, Kasich has penned his name to a number of different abortion bills in the state. In November 2011, only a few months into office, Kasich signed [JURIST report] House Bill 63 into law, restricting the ability of minors to obtain an abortion. The law dictates that judges only permit abortions for minors in cases where there is "clear and convincing evidence" that the abortion is in the best interest of the young woman. Kasich signed into law a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks [JURIST report] in July, the last of several pieces of anti-abortion legislation in the state. That legislation requires doctors to determine the viability of the fetus and seek a second opinion as to whether the child is capable of surviving outside of the womb. In the event that the fetus is viable, an abortion would only be made available if the woman faced "death or a substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function." Two months prior, a judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio [official website] upheld an Ohio law that limits the use of the "abortion pill," overturning a 2006 injunction [JURIST reports].

 

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