Abortion clinics in Ohio are pushing for a court to strike down abortion restrictions now that voters have enshrined abortion rights into the state Constitution, arguing that even the state’s Republican attorney general says the amendment invalidates the ban.

The push comes on the heels of an amendment that Ohio voters approved last month that ensures access to abortion and other reproductive health care. It took effect last week.

A law signed by Republican Gov. Mike DeWine in April 2019 prohibited most abortions after the first detectable “fetal heartbeat.” Cardiac activity can be detected as early as six weeks into pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant.

The law had been blocked through a federal legal challenge, briefly went into effect when the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision was overturned, and then was again put on hold in county court.

Republican Attorney General Dave Yost appealed that ruling to the state Supreme Court, which is reviewing the case, but he declined to take up the question of whether abortion is legal under the state constitution. That was left to be litigated at the county level.

In response to a request for comment, Yost's office referred to a statement from Dec. 7 on where things stand, writing, “the state is prepared to acknowledge the will of the people on the issue, but also to carefully review each part of the law for an orderly resolution of the case.”

The providers are asking the lower court that initially blocked the ban to permanently strike it down.

“The Ohio Constitution now plainly and precisely answers the question before the court — whether the six-week ban is unconstitutional — in the affirmative,” the clinics and ACLU Ohio said in a statement issued Thursday. “The Ohio Constitution is the highest law in our state and this amendment prevents anti-abortion politicians from passing laws to deny our bodily autonomy and interfere in our private medical decisions.”

In the complaint updated on Thursday to reflect the vote, lawyers for the clinics asserted that the ban “violates fundamental rights guaranteed by the Ohio Constitution, including the right to reproductive freedom.”

The complaint cites Yost’s legal analysis circulated before the vote, which stated that passage of the amendment would invalidate the state’s six-week ban, stating, “Ohio would no longer have the ability to limit abortions at any time before a fetus is viable.”

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