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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: 752108

Reported Deaths: 13816
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1033831790
Lake558431013
Allen41736693
St. Joseph37007565
Hamilton36617417
Elkhart29425461
Tippecanoe22938228
Vanderburgh22565400
Porter19369327
Johnson18486389
Hendricks17696317
Clark13233195
Madison13176344
Vigo12631253
LaPorte12429221
Monroe12226176
Delaware10970198
Howard10349224
Kosciusko9643121
Hancock8578147
Bartholomew8174157
Warrick7864156
Floyd7815180
Grant7248179
Wayne7164201
Boone6979103
Morgan6768141
Dubois6224118
Marshall6214116
Cass6024110
Henry5903110
Dearborn589878
Noble581688
Jackson509476
Shelby502396
Lawrence4753122
Gibson445595
Clinton443555
Harrison441775
DeKalb440385
Montgomery439890
Whitley406744
Huntington403381
Steuben400859
Miami395769
Jasper389155
Knox377691
Putnam373461
Wabash362383
Ripley347370
Adams345555
Jefferson336186
White332753
Daviess3035100
Wells295481
Decatur289892
Greene286885
Fayette284864
Posey274335
LaGrange273272
Scott270356
Clay267148
Washington246336
Randolph245183
Jennings235349
Spencer234531
Starke228159
Fountain222048
Sullivan214843
Owen212358
Fulton204043
Jay201032
Carroll193820
Orange188255
Perry187237
Rush175926
Vermillion175344
Franklin170435
Tipton166646
Parke149616
Pike138334
Blackford136232
Pulaski120847
Newton114936
Brown104443
Benton102614
Crawford102516
Martin91815
Warren84115
Switzerland8158
Union72810
Ohio57911
Unassigned0424

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1109697

Reported Deaths: 20213
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1289521469
Cuyahoga1158802216
Hamilton814201251
Montgomery525861049
Summit484551006
Lucas43384824
Butler39098606
Stark33355930
Lorain25689506
Warren24612305
Mahoning22388602
Lake21219389
Clermont20138253
Delaware18892136
Licking16671225
Fairfield16589204
Trumbull16560483
Medina15618273
Greene15292248
Clark14244306
Wood13296200
Portage13254216
Allen11919239
Richland11611211
Miami10857225
Wayne9153225
Columbiana9039230
Muskingum8909135
Pickaway8664122
Tuscarawas8654251
Marion8649139
Erie8058165
Ashtabula7171179
Hancock6999133
Ross6948163
Geauga6850151
Scioto6540106
Belmont6159174
Union585049
Lawrence5741102
Jefferson5683159
Huron5554122
Sandusky5444126
Darke5420129
Seneca5350128
Washington5321109
Athens524460
Auglaize502487
Mercer487785
Shelby477095
Knox4573112
Madison444566
Ashland435997
Putnam4336104
Defiance432399
Fulton432274
Crawford4046110
Brown402761
Logan387678
Preble3859105
Clinton379266
Ottawa373581
Highland360266
Williams348578
Champaign344959
Guernsey325254
Jackson318454
Perry297350
Morrow291940
Fayette285750
Hardin275765
Henry273867
Holmes2703101
Coshocton269360
Van Wert247264
Adams243156
Pike242835
Gallia240850
Wyandot234756
Hocking220663
Carroll197548
Paulding176642
Meigs148540
Monroe136345
Noble136239
Harrison114138
Morgan110124
Vinton85717
Unassigned03
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