UPDATE (3/21/19 (9:20PM): Judge Barrett released an order protecting abortion access in the 2nd trimester in Ohio for now. Clinics will still be able to provide the same level of care tomorrow that they did today. We are appreciative of this temporary relief. Although the relief was limited in scope it is a victory for the plaintiffs in this case (PP and Women’s Med Center). The judge was careful to limit his decision because of the limited amount of time he had to review the facts of the case. We are hopeful as the case continues through the process and all the evidence can be presented Ohio will follow the seven other states where courts have blocked similar bans. As always we will be on the front lines making sure we protect abortion access in our state, and will provide additional updates as they are available. Read the statement released by Preterm, a provider in Cleveland about this decision.
Last December, during the lame duck legislative session, the Ohio House and Senate passed SB 145, the Abortion Method Ban. Governor John Kasich signed this restrictive and dangerous bill as one of his final acts as governor. When a bill is passed and signed into law, it does not go into effect for 90 days. For SB 145 that 90 day ends on Friday (3/22/19), meaning unless we get a temporary injunction blocking the bill from going into effect Ohio’s abortion providers will have to follow the ban put in place by SB 145.
SB 145 forbids the use of the D&E procedure to perform abortions. A D&E is a safe and common method of abortion that is used for most second trimester procedures, most commonly those of 15 weeks gestation or more. All pregnancies are different, and doctors perform the type of abortion procedure they feel is best for the individual patient in their care, so gestational limitations on D&E abortion care are subjective. However, it is likely that if SB 145 goes into effect it would impact individuals seeking abortion care after 16-18 weeks by forcing them to go out of state to access the care they need.
Planned Parenthood and Women’s Med Center of Dayton have challenged this law in federal court, a hearing on granting a temporary injunction happened in Cincinnati federal court on Tuesday, March 19th. It is our hope that the judge will rule on the injunction before Friday’s effective date, but there is no required date that they must rule by.
Where can individuals seeing D&E procedures turn? The closest clinics to provide care to these folks are Northland Family Planning (with several clinics in the Detroit metro area), Allegheny Repro Health Clinic (in the Pittsburgh area) and Planned Parenthood Pittsburgh Health Center. You can find their information on our clinics page.
Michigan has a 24-hour informed consent law, which contains both a verbal and written ‘educational’ component. The verbal portion can be done over the phone and documented by the clinic. The written portion can be done online, but must be printed and time stamped at least 24 hours in advance of the appointment (and is good for up to two weeks). There is no requirement that the patient physically go to the clinic twice (more information on the MI informed consent law). If you are a minor needing care, please contact the clinic and they can assist you with the parental consent process or with the judicial bypass process if you cannot obtain a parental consent for the procedure. Parental consent processes differ from clinic to clinic, but will most likely require the minor to visit the clinic with their parent, and have their birth certificate, a form of ID, as well as their parent’s ID and proof of guardianship (ask the clinic what they require when you make your appointment). Northland Family Planning provides abortion care through the 23rd week of pregnancy.
Pennsylvania also has a 24-hour informed consent law but only requires that information be presented verbally, so the individual does not have to go to the clinic for the informed consent appointment. For minors PA also requires parental consent for abortion, or for the minor to go through a judicial bypass process. If you are a minor seeking access to care please contact the clinic and they can help you go through whichever process works for your individual situation. Alleghany Reproductive Health Clinic provides abortion care through the 23rd week of pregnancy. The Planned Parenthood Pittsburgh Health Center provides abortion care up to 18 weeks gestation.
While we certainly hope that the court issues the injunction and our clinics will still be able to provide second trimester abortion care, we are here to support all who need access to abortion care. If you need help accessing care or affording the services or the costs of travel to access abortion care please reach out to Ohio’s independent abortion fund, Women Have Options – Ohio (firstname.lastname@example.org) or your local abortion clinic.
Additional funding is available through the National Abortion Federation (NAF) through their hotline at 1-800-772-9100. The hotline is staffed Monday-Friday 7am-11pm Eastern time, Saturday & Sunday 9am-5pm Eastern time.
You can find info on clinics in Ohio and surrounding states on our clinic info page here: https://prochoiceohio.org/issue/abortion-clinics/.