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Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Ohio Ban On Common Abortion Method

A federal judge in Cincinnati has issued an order temporarily stopping part of an Ohio anti-abortion law from being implemented.

The state law, which was set to take effect on Friday, bans an abortion method known as dilation and evacuation, in which a woman’s cervix is dilated and the fetus is removed with suction and medical tools. It’s the most commonly used method of abortion in the second trimester of pregnancy, typically after 16 weeks of gestation.

Under the Ohio law, doctors who perform the D&E procedure could be charged with a fourth-degree felony, carrying a penalty of up to 18 months in prison. While the law makes an exception for abortions required to save a woman’s life, it makes none in cases of rape or incest. 

U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett’s order, which lasts 14 days, permits doctors to perform the procedure for women who are less than 18 weeks pregnant.

The temporary injunction comes in a lawsuit filed in February by Planned Parenthood, which sued to block the law, arguing it places an undue burden on a large fraction of women. In his decision, Barrett ― a George W. Bush appointee ― largely agreed, noting women don’t have access to any legal alternative in Ohio at that point in their pregnancy.

Earlier this month, Ohio’s Republican-controlled legislature passed another controversial anti-abortion bill, outlawing the procedure as soon as doctors detect a fetal heartbeat. Republican Gov. Mike DeWine has promised to sign it into law, effectively barring abortion after six weeks ― before many women even realize they’re pregnant.

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