Hamilton County judge temporarily blocks Ohio telemedicine abortion ban

The two-week restraining order was granted by a Hamilton County judge late Tuesday in a case brought last week by Planned Parenthood against the Ohio Department of Health, the state Medical Board and prosecutors in the state’s three largest counties.

Posted: Apr 7, 2021 3:28 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A judge has temporarily blocked an Ohio ban on the use of telemedicine for medication abortions as a suit challenging the law’s constitutionality proceeds.

The two-week restraining order was granted by a Hamilton County judge late Tuesday in a case brought last week by Planned Parenthood against the Ohio Department of Health, the state Medical Board and prosecutors in the state’s three largest counties.

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It was the second Ohio abortion law Common Pleas Judge Alison Hatheway has blocked this week.

She delayed enforcement Monday of another law that would require fetal remains from surgical abortions to be cremated or buried, agreeing with a group of clinics that had sued that a lack of rules made complying unworkable.

The judge’s latest decision means the telemedicine abortion ban will not take effect as scheduled on Monday. The court will consider the law’s longer-term fate at a hearing April 19.

It marks the fifth Ohio abortion restriction passed by the state’s Republican-led Legislature to now be blocked by the courts.

The others are bans on dilation and evacuation, or D&E abortions; on abortions in cases where a fetal Down syndrome diagnosis is a factor; and on all abortions after detection of the first fetal heartbeat, which can occur as early as six weeks into pregnancy before many women know they are pregnant.

Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis said the court’s decision “puts women and babies at risk.”

“No woman deserves to be subjected to the gruesome process of a chemical abortion potentially hours away from the physician who proscribed her the drugs,” he said in a statement. He said women have died undergoing the regimen, although the Ohio Department of Health has recorded no deaths from any type of abortion in many years.

Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, rejected the anti-abortion group’s arguments.

“Bans on the use of telemedicine abortion have nothing to do with safeguarding patients’ health — they only make it harder for patients to access care that’s safe and effective,” she said in a statement. “Across the country state-level politicians are trying to limit access to medication abortion, in clear defiance of science.”

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed the telemedicine abortion ban in January. It would prohibit administration of mifepristone to medically induce an abortion via a telehealth appointment. Doctors who violated the law would face a fourth-degree felony charge on the first offense and a third-degree felony charge for subsequent violations.

The use of telemedicine rose steeply when the coronavirus pandemic hit. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, telehealth visits increased 154% during the last week of March 2020, compared with the same period in 2019.

Supporters of the law argued that it is important for a doctor to be physically present when women take mifepristone for a chemical abortion to assure safety and to answer questions.

Opponents contended that women seeking abortions are already required to visit a clinic for counseling and for an ultrasound a day ahead of the procedure under current Ohio law. They said taking the abortion medication from home on the second day, while connected online with the a clinician, is safe and permitted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 704632

Reported Deaths: 13211
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion961411718
Lake51322943
Allen39040670
Hamilton34368405
St. Joseph33865539
Elkhart27197431
Vanderburgh22050394
Tippecanoe21725212
Johnson17475374
Porter17240298
Hendricks16754310
Clark12663190
Madison12321337
Vigo12172244
Monroe11417166
LaPorte10841204
Delaware10325184
Howard9629211
Kosciusko9098113
Hancock7954139
Bartholomew7867155
Warrick7680155
Floyd7543176
Wayne6887198
Grant6773171
Boone6524100
Morgan6379138
Dubois6074117
Marshall5770108
Dearborn568576
Cass5678102
Henry5569100
Noble539383
Jackson492869
Shelby478295
Lawrence4336118
Gibson427789
Harrison427570
Clinton417753
Montgomery417286
DeKalb407984
Huntington377480
Whitley376339
Miami371765
Knox365789
Steuben363357
Putnam352360
Jasper347546
Wabash347377
Adams337852
Ripley333468
Jefferson312180
White307854
Daviess289399
Wells285581
Decatur278592
Fayette277162
Greene270485
Posey268433
Scott260853
Clay253044
LaGrange252170
Randolph234680
Washington230631
Spencer227531
Jennings224747
Fountain208245
Sullivan207542
Starke202652
Owen191956
Fulton190939
Jay185829
Carroll185620
Perry179736
Orange176753
Rush170624
Vermillion165943
Franklin165635
Tipton160943
Parke144316
Blackford133331
Pike130234
Pulaski113245
Newton103034
Brown99740
Crawford97514
Benton96413
Martin82515
Warren79315
Switzerland7698
Union69710
Ohio55711
Unassigned0408

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1050112

Reported Deaths: 18991
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1219281356
Cuyahoga1067232069
Hamilton780741168
Montgomery49976996
Summit45252909
Lucas39984765
Butler37678570
Stark31385895
Lorain24111473
Warren23864293
Mahoning20869583
Lake19963362
Clermont19423229
Delaware18002130
Licking16109207
Fairfield15676197
Trumbull15553460
Medina14839259
Greene14643236
Clark13602293
Wood12733185
Portage12353196
Allen11312229
Richland11025198
Miami10525214
Muskingum8702127
Wayne8556209
Columbiana8535226
Pickaway8429121
Tuscarawas8370240
Marion8365135
Erie7554154
Hancock6694123
Ross6693146
Geauga6532146
Ashtabula6470165
Scioto6286101
Belmont5610158
Union557447
Lawrence5465102
Jefferson5303147
Huron5298114
Darke5268121
Sandusky5171120
Seneca5108120
Washington5073107
Athens500656
Auglaize475184
Mercer471184
Shelby455890
Knox4380108
Madison421559
Putnam420799
Ashland412688
Fulton409167
Defiance400896
Crawford3866101
Brown386055
Logan372876
Preble369898
Clinton360560
Ottawa356578
Highland346359
Williams324974
Champaign319257
Jackson307951
Guernsey306149
Perry289649
Fayette277348
Morrow274639
Hardin264164
Henry263566
Coshocton258857
Holmes253099
Van Wert238862
Gallia233346
Pike232931
Adams227852
Wyandot226953
Hocking208959
Carroll189147
Paulding168638
Meigs141538
Noble132837
Monroe128841
Morgan106623
Harrison105236
Vinton81414
Unassigned02
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