The abortion restrictions approved in the state budget were challenged in court today by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio.
However, the measures aren’t being challenged on the basis of abortion rights. Instead, the lawsuit filed in Cuyahoga County Common Please Court says three amendments related to abortion violate the Ohio Constitution’s “single subject” rule and thus are unconstitutional.
(NOTE: To read the lawsuit, scroll down to the end of this story and click on the link.)
“To put it simply, none of these amendments have any place in the state budget bill,” said Susan Scheutzow, ACLU cooperating attorney, in a release. “This massive bill is not intended to deal with new policy; the single subject of the budget should be the appropriation of funds for existing government programs or obligations.”
One of the amendments challenged bars public hospitals from signing transfer agreements with abortion clinics, which are required for a clinic to operate.
A second provision requires clinics to tell women wanting an abortion about any evidence of a fetal heartbeat before performing the abortion or face criminal charges.
The third amendment creates a new state “parenting and pregnancy” program that the ACLU says "siphons state money directly into private organizations that are forbidden from mentioning abortion services.”
“The first two amendments have nothing at all to do with budget appropriations,” said Jessie Hill, ACLU cooperating attorney and professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, in the release. “The third is also unconstitutional because it creates and funds an entirely new government program, something that requires stand-alone legislation.”
The suit was filed against Gov. John Kasich, the state itself, the state medical board as a group and individually, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor and the Ohio departments of health and job and family services and their directors.
“We don’t comment on litigation,” was the response of Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols.
Michael Gonidakis, executive director of Ohio Right to Life – who also was named in the suit because he’s a member of the state medical board – said: “This lawsuit contradicts itself. On the one hand, the ACLU claims the budget ‘should be’ for appropriating funds and on the other hand they claim that they do not like how the funds are appropriated. By their own admission, this so-called lawsuit is all about abortion-on-demand. It has nothing to do with the Ohio Constitution.
“This is nothing more than a pro-abortion legal stunt by the ACLU which ultimately will cost Ohio taxpayers significantly. In the end, all three of these pro-life laws will by upheld by the courts. Tragically, much needed resources will be blocked temporarily from going to poor pregnant women, especially in the rural parts of Ohio. Instead of offering common sense solutions to help women, the abortion industry, the ACLU and their lawyers choose to waste time and money on frivolous lawsuits.”
Christine Link, Ohio ACLU executive director, said in the release: “This litigation is as much about good government as it is about reproductive justice. You don’t have to be pro-choice to understand that there are rules, and those rules must be followed.”
The suit was filed on behalf of Preterm-Cleveland, a women’s health clinic that provides contraception, birth control, pregnancy counseling and abortion services.
“Every day we see families facing deeply personal decisions, and I can tell you that they don’t need nor want politicians in the middle of those decisions,” said Preterm Executive Director Chrisse France. “I can also tell you that these amendments have nothing to do with helping those families.”
She added: "There is no such thing as an uncomplicated abortion in Ohio anymore. It was easier to get an abortion in 1980 than today."
By Darrel Rowland - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
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