April 02, 2020

Ohio's COVID-19 Ban on Abortions Temporarily Blocked by Federal Judge

A federal judge in Ohio temporarily blocked Ohio’s prohibition on abortions as elective procedures amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. On March 17, Ohio’s Department of Health issued an order banning elective procedures. The order, which focused on conservation of resources like personal protective equipment, has been interpreted to extend to abortions by classifying them as non-essential. Abortion and other healthcare providers across the state raised the issue in U.S. District Court as a part of a larger challenge to Ohio’s abortion restrictions, which was originally filed in May 2019.

In his order, United States District Court Judge Michael R. Barrett of the Southern District of Ohio found that a ban on elective abortions would likely place an undue burden on a woman’s right to choose a pre-viability abortion, and noted that enforcement of the ban would inflict irreparable harm on women seeking access to abortions. He also noted that the COVID-19 emergency presented a novel intersection between the state’s right to protect its citizens and the citizen’s right to choose. The temporary restraining order will last for 14 days.