An Ohio federal court on Thursday continued to block the state’s Department of Health from restricting abortion access amid the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. District Court Judge Michael Barrett issued a preliminary injunction that would allow surgical abortions to be performed on a case-by-case basis if the provider determines that delaying the procedure would push the patient past the point of “viability” under state law, which is 22 weeks into a pregnancy. The injunction rules against restrictions on elective surgeries in Ohio that the health department has implemented during the outbreak.
Barrett wrote Thursday that despite the state’s order, the “procedure is deemed legally essential to preserve a woman’s right to constitutionally protected access to abortions.” “This is a crucial victory for Ohioans’ access to essential abortion care, and in the fight to ensure that the response to the COVID-19 crisis is grounded in public health, not politics,” Elizabeth Watson, an attorney ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, said in a statement.
Ohio is among a dozen other states—Arkansas, Alaska, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana, Kentucky, Alabama, Louisiana, and West Virginia—that have attempted to restrict abortion access amid the pandemic.