Abortion is legal in Ohio, although there are some restrictions in place in the state surrounding abortion access and ongoing legal challenges following the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court of the United States.
Roe v. Wade
While the United States Supreme Court did not outright ban abortion nationwide through its ruling, it granted the states ample power to do so.
In the aftermath of the controversial ruling, nine states had already started implementing their respective abortion bans.
Abortion in Ohio
Ohio, for its part, did not establish a complete ban, but the Ohio legislature still retained some abortion restrictions.
At the time of writing, Ohio abortion law grants Ohioan women abortion rights up to 22 weeks gestation, at least in most cities (more on this later).
Yet, this gestational limit is still under dispute between the Ohio legislature and the courts.
An Ohio law was indeed passed (Senate Bill 23), which banned abortions from six weeks of gestation onwards, that is, the moment when it’s believed that fetal heartbeat activity is first detected (the bill went under the moniker of “heartbeat bill” for this reason.)
This meant that, for practical purposes, an abortion ban was in place as, at that stage, the average woman would unlikely be aware of their pregnancy.
Gov. Mike DeWine signed the bill in April 2019, but a federal court blocked it until the United States Supreme Court granted Ohio lawmakers authority to enforce this state law through the Dobbs v. JWHO decision.
Judge Michael R. Barret lifted the preliminary injunction precluding state officials from carrying out the law against abortion providers.
Sometime after, the law was blocked again, this time by the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas, on October 7, 2022.
The local court ordered another preliminary injunction preventing the abortion law from being enforced. Hence, the prior 22-week rule will remain in effect while litigation is underway.
Currently, Lebanon is the only city in Ohio still with an abortion ban in force (which is why it’s often deemed a “Sanctuary City for the Unborn”).
In May 2021, Lebanon’s city council approved the ordinance banning abortion in the city and penalizing clinics and professionals who provide assistance for those seeking it.
It became the first city in Ohio to criminalize the action at all pregnancy stages.
On September 19, 2022, the city council passed a new ordinance slightly updating the terms of the one from the previous year.
While abortion remains illegal in the city, many other actions tangentially related to the subject were not mentioned, such as providing financial support or transportation to a pregnant woman procuring it from an abortion provider.
Another city that initially wanted to prohibit abortion at all stages was Mason, Ohio, which also passed a local ordinance to that effect in 2021.
Nevertheless, that ordinance got repealed in December of that same year by the newly-elected city council.