CINCINNATI, OH — Today, an Ohio judge granted a preliminary injunction that blocks the enforcement of the telemedicine abortion ban in the state — for now. This follows a lawsuit filed several weeks ago by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, along with Fanon A. Rucker of The Cochran Firm-OH, who sued on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio and Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region, over the state’s ban on telemedicine abortion that was signed into law earlier this year. On April 6, the judge granted a temporary restraining order in the case through April 19. Had the court not intervened, the law was set to take effect on April 12. The preliminary injunction will remain in place until the court has an opportunity to resolve the case.
Statement from Iris E. Harvey, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio:
“Today’s ruling protects telemedicine abortion access for our patients, at least temporarily. We’re grateful that patients still have access to this essential service, ensuring that they can safely and more quickly receive the health care they need. Ohio is one of the most medically underserved states in the country, a problem particularly felt by Black communities, people of color, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in our state. Telehealth is a patient-centered and patient-enabling approach to address these disparities. It’s already hard for people to access abortion services because of more than a decade of attacks by extreme anti-abortion forces in Ohio. Today’s temporary relief is proof that we’ll never stop fighting to change that. And we’ll never stop working to protect our patients’ access to health care.”
Statement from Kersha Deibel, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region:
“Today’s ruling is a relief for Ohioans as access to telemedicine abortion is protected for our patients. Safe, legal abortion is already extremely difficult to access for people in this state, particularly for Black people, people of color, LGBTQ+ people, people with low incomes and people living in remote areas. And telehealth services help improve these disparities. We’re pleased the judge saw through this blatant attempt to single out and attack abortion access and barred the law from taking effect while the case is ongoing. The intent of this law was never to better health care for Ohioans. We will continue to fight to ensure that our patients can still access medication abortion via telehealth — a safe, effective, and vital part of reproductive health care.”
Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“Today’s ruling is a win for Ohio patients, at least temporarily. Even as state politicians across the country — in clear defiance of science — try to limit access to medication abortion, we are celebrating this win, which protects Ohioans’ access to essential health care. Bans on the use of telemedicine abortion have nothing to do with safeguarding patients’ health and only make it harder for patients to access care that’s safe and effective. At a moment when access to telemedicine is gravely needed, states should be expanding all telehealth services, including abortion. Let today’s decision be a sign: Planned Parenthood will never stop fighting for our patients’ right to access reproductive health care. And we won’t stand for these relentless attacks on our basic rights and freedoms that target women, people of color, people with low incomes, and LGBTQ+ people.”
In January, Gov. Mike DeWine signed into law Senate Bill 260, a dangerous ban on the use of telehealth in medication abortion that goes against best medical practices. The law would force patients to travel farther for an in-person appointment with a physician to access time-sensitive care. Medication abortion is safe, effective, and a vital part of reproductive health care. Requiring that a patient see a physician in person to obtain the medication for a medication abortion does not improve patient safety, no matter what might be said by legislators who ignore science. Allowing patients to access medication abortion via telehealth can reduce delays in accessing care and the distance that patients have to travel in order to speak with a provider and receive their medication.
Nationally, attacks on medication abortion are on the rise. Planned Parenthood Federation of America released a report last month that shows state abortion bans and restrictions are escalating across the country. And at a time when patients trying to survive a pandemic depend on telehealth and medication abortion, politicians tripled the number of medication abortion restrictions introduced compared to this time in 2019, pre-pandemic.