Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Christian Jenkins previously issued a temporary injunction on Sept. 14, which blocked the abortion ban for 14 days, before granting the preliminary injunction on the abortion ban on Friday.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) noted that Jenkins has yet to release a written order for his decision. “The court has asked for written findings of fact and conclusions of law to be submitted by the parties and then will issue a written order,” it said in a release.
After the written order is issued, abortion in Ohio will be legal up to 20 weeks of pregnancy until the case is resolved.
“The preliminary injunction will be in place for the duration of our case, which means abortions will be legal in Ohio for a period much, much longer than the temporary restraining order granted,” Planned Parenthood said in a statement, adding it is “thrilled” with the judge’s decision.
In announcing his decision from the bench on Friday, Jenkins pushed back on the state government’s arguments that the Ohio Constitution doesn’t ever mention abortion and so does not protect the right to one.
It is “simply wrong” to argue that a “right does not exist because it is not specifically listed in the [U.S.] Constitution,” Jenkins said.
“This court has no difficulty holding that the Ohio Constitution confers a fundamental right on all of Ohioans to privacy, procreation, bodily integrity, and freedom of choice in health care decision-making that encompasses the right to abortion,” he added.
Abortion providers had argued in their suit that the “fundamental right to an abortion” was guaranteed under the Ohio Constitution. They filed the legal challenge after the state’s fetal heartbeat abortion ban was enacted after Roe v. Wade was overturned in late June.
The state is expected to appeal.
Ohio Right to Life President Michael Gonidakis said the group was “saddened but not surprised” by Jenkins’s decision.
“The abortion clinics literally forum shopped to get the outcome they wanted,” he said in a statement. “This is a moment in time for the pro-life movement and we are convinced that the Ohio Supreme Court will overturn this ruling. Nowhere in Ohio’s Constitution does a right to an abortion exist.”
Ohio’s heartbeat law was signed by Republican Gov. Mike DeWine back in 2019. A Republican-controlled state legislature had passed the bill, dubbed Senate Bill 23 (SB 23). The law bans abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks into pregnancy. It doesn’t include exceptions for rape or incest, or fetal anomalies. However, it includes exceptions for medical emergencies or medical necessities. If a doctor is found to have violated the law, they could face fines of up to $20,000 and loss of his or her medical license.
The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision had prohibited states from banning abortions prior to when the fetus is deemed “viable”—or potentially able to live outside its mother’s womb—deemed at around the second trimester of pregnancy at 24 weeks. Roe had largely enabled abortions up until 24 weeks across the country for up to five decades, overturning state laws that had been in place prior to 1973.
According to the pro-abortion nonprofit Guttmacher Institute, at least 66 clinics have stopped offering abortions across the United States since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. The clinics are located in the 15 U.S. states that have imposed complete or six-week abortion bans since Roe’s repeal.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.