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Another legal challenge filed over Ohio's abortion limits still in place after November vote

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A new legal argument has been filed against the state of Ohio over its ban on prescribing abortion-inducing drugs via telehealth. The filing is an amendment to an already existing lawsuit against that 2021 law.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Ohio, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the law firm WilmerHale, and Fanon Rucker of the Cochran Law Firm argue the telehealth laws on the books, but not enforced right now, violate the Ohio constitutional amendment approved by voters last fall. The law has been on hold since a temporary injunction blocked it in 2021.

In addition, the filing challenges a law that prevents advanced practice clinicians—such as physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and certified nurse midwives—from providing medication abortion. And it takes issue with the law that blocks providers from prescribing mifepristone, one of the two drugs most commonly used in a medication abortion according to the best medical evidence, and instead requiring providers to follow only the drug label instructions. Those say mifepristone must be prescribed in a clinical setting or under the supervision of a provider and that an agreement must be signed by the patient in person.

The Food and Drug Administration approved mifeprisone for use for abortion in 2000. It's usually used in combination with misoprostol to induce abortion up to 11 weeks into pregnancy.

Jessie Hill, a cooperating attorney for the ACLU of Ohio, said there is no basis for these laws being on the books.

“Medication abortion is safe, effective, and accounts for nearly two-thirds of abortions in the United States. These arbitrary, medically unnecessary anti-abortion restrictions profoundly limit Ohioans’ ability to exercise their constitutional rights. We urge the court to strike them down,” Hill said.

The most recent induced abortion report from the Ohio Department of Health shows 48% of abortions in 2022 were performed with mifepristone. The Guttmacher Institute reports medication abortion is the most common method of ending a pregnancy in the U.S., accounting for 63% of all abortions.

This is the latest legal challenge since voters approved the Reproductive Rights Amendment in November 2023. A mandatory 24-hour waiting period and other abortion limitations are also being challenged in courts because plaintiffs say they are no longer constitutional.

Ohio’s Republican leadership has not removed any abortion restrictions since the amendment’s passage, saying those issues should be determined by courts instead.

Contact Jo Ingles at jingles@statehousenews.org.