Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas Judge Christian Jenkins (D) this week indicated he will extend his hold on a significant Ohio abortion-restricting law for two additional weeks. 

Jenkins’s decision prolongs the effect of a decision he made last week to obstruct the Heartbeat Act’s implementation, with the initial freeze to last two weeks. The Ohio General Assembly passed and Governor Mike DeWine (R) signed the bill (SB 23) in 2019. The legislation, which prohibits aborting unborn children who have detectable heartbeats, could not take effect until this year after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. 

As a result of the county court’s action, abortions can be performed unrestricted at any point in the first 20 weeks of a pregnancy until at least mid-October. A hearing regarding a possible preliminary injunction will take place on October 7.

“This is devastating news to hear, as more innocent unborn lives will be violently ended in our state due to an unjust decision from an activist judge,” the nonprofit Ohio Right to Life stated in reaction to Jenkins’ move. “However, have full confidence that justice will ultimately be upheld. Life will win.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, which is suing in an attempt to kill the law, praised the judge’s action and vowed to continue its effort as long as the Heartbeat Act remains on the books. 

“Abortion is legal in Ohio — for now!” the organization tweeted. “Our fight for the preliminary injunction continues.”

Abortion providers celebrated their continued ability to operate in the Buckeye State. Six surgical centers at which abortions are performed exist in Ohio. Some of them have indicated they may close in light of the restriction currently under court scrutiny.

“Abortion is legal in Ohio and our doors are open to provide the care you deserve,” Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio wrote on Twitter.

One abortion clinic, the Women’s Med Center in Kettering, announced last month that it would permanently close in mere weeks. In the wake of the county court’s freeze on the Heartbeat Act’s implementation, the Dayton-area clinic quickly resumed its activities. 

In his initial decision to temporarily halt SB 23, Jenkins declared that “there is a fundamental right to abortion under the Ohio Constitution.” Although the document never mentions pregnancy or its termination, Jenkins relied on unrelated provisions barring health insurance mandates and granting “equal protection and benefit” to all state residents. 

The fate of the 2019 law will likely depend on the makeup of the state supreme court whenever the case reaches it. That has made this year’s races for justice all the more poignant for devotees of this issue. 

Dayton Right to Life is among the anti-abortion organizations urging voters to back the re-election of incumbent Republican Associate Justices Pat DeWine and Patrick Fischer as well as Justice Sharon L. Kennedy, who is seeking retiring Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor’s seat. Pro-abortion groups including Pro-Choice Ohio have meanwhile endorsed incumbent Democratic Justice Jennifer Brunner as well as 10th District Court of Appeals Judge Terri Jamison (D) and First District Judge Marilyn Zayas. 

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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Ohio Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Christian Jenkins” by Hamilton County Courts.