Federal Appeals Court Upholds Ohio Abortion Procedures Ban

On Wednesday, a federal appeals court upheld Ohio’s restrictive abortion procedures ban. The Ohio law contains a limited exception for the health of the women–an exception that is much narrower than the exception set forth by the US Supreme Court in its ruling on a Nebraska abortion procedures ban in 2000. The Associated Press reports that Dr. Martin Haskell, who is challenging the law, will appeal his case to the full appeals court or the US Supreme Court.

The Ohio statute permits the banned procedure to be used only if its use would prevent “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function” stemming from the woman’s physical health at the time or from the use of an alternative procedure. The fact that in a doctor’s medical opinion, the banned procedure would be safer or more appropriate for a given women is insufficient. Moreover, as the dissenting judge pointed out, there is no exception at all in the law for the banned procedure to be used if the mental health of the patient requires it.

“This decision is a frightening snapshot of what courts comprised of anti-choice presidents’ nominees can do to basic rights like privacy and the freedom of choice,” Evelyn Becker from NARAL Pro-Choice America told the Toledo Blade. The judges who voted to uphold the ban were nominated by Presidents George Bush, Sr. and Ronald Reagan; the judge who voted against it was nominated by President Clinton. The Feminist Majority joins NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood, and NOW in organizing the huge national reproductive rights march, March for Women’s Lives, in Washington, DC on April 25, 2004. “The recent passage of a federal abortion procedures ban is creating an outrage fueling the march,” Jessica Terlikowski, a Feminist Majority March organizer declared.

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Toledo Blade 12/18/03; Associated Press 12/18/03; Dayton Daily News 12/18/03; Boston Globe 12/18/03

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