Case: Preterm-Cleveland v. Yost

24 CV 002634 | Ohio state trial court

Filed Date: March 29, 2024

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

This case challenged Ohio Revised Code (“R.C.”) 2317.56 and 2919.192– 2919.194. The challenged abortion restrictions required the majority of patients to make two trips to a health center, and in practice, often forced patients to wait much longer than 24 hours to receive an abortion. Ohio Revised Code 2317.56 stated that, at least 24 hours prior to an abortion, a physician must meet with the patient in an individual and private setting, in person, and inform the patient verbally of the nature …

This case challenged Ohio Revised Code (“R.C.”) 2317.56 and 2919.192– 2919.194. The challenged abortion restrictions required the majority of patients to make two trips to a health center, and in practice, often forced patients to wait much longer than 24 hours to receive an abortion.

Ohio Revised Code 2317.56 stated that, at least 24 hours prior to an abortion, a physician must meet with the patient in an individual and private setting, in person, and inform the patient verbally of the nature and purpose of the abortion as well as its medical risks, the probable gestational age of the embryo or fetus, and the medical risks associated with carrying the pregnancy to term. It further required that the physician or their agent give the patient copies of state-produced materials concerning gestational development, family planning information, and publicly-funded support options. Before a patient could receive abortion care, the state required them to certify in writing that the provider had given them all of the required materials and that all of their questions had been answered. The patient had to further certify that they were consenting to the procedure “voluntarily, knowingly, intelligently, and without coercion by any person” and that they were “not under the influence of any drug of abuse or alcohol.” Failure to comply with the requirements under R.C. 2317.56 risked severe professional and civil penalties. The state medical board could limit, revoke, or suspend a physician’s medical license based on a violation of R.C. 2317.56. In addition, “any person, or the representative of the estate of any person, who sustain[ed] injury, death or loss to person or property” as a result of non-compliance with R.C. 2317.56 could bring a civil action for compensatory and exemplary damages against a provider who violated R.C. 2317.56.

Ohio Revised Code 2919.192, 2919.193, and 2919.194 also required testing for fetal or embryonic cardiac activity prior to an abortion, and—if such activity was detected—required that the patient was provided with additional state-mandated information and was forced to delay their abortion for at least 24 hours. Specifically, if fetal or embryonic cardiac activity was detected, the physician had to give the patient written confirmation that embryonic or fetal cardiac activity was present and provided state-mandated information about the statistical probability of carrying the pregnancy to term based on gestational age, and the patient had to sign and acknowledge receipt of this information. The physician had to then wait at least 24 hours before providing the patient with an abortion. Failure to test for fetal or embryonic cardiac activity prior to providing an abortion as required by R.C. 2919.192 was a fifth-degree felony, punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. Failure to provide the state-mandated information and obtain the written acknowledgment at least 24 hours before an abortion when fetal or embryonic cardiac activity was detected, as required by R.C. 2919.194 was a first-degree misdemeanor on the first offense, punishable by up to 180 days incarceration and a fine of up to $1,000, and a fourth-degree felony on each subsequent offense, punishable by up to eighteen months in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. In addition to these criminal penalties, there were severe professional and civil penalties for violating these laws. The state medical board could assess a forfeiture of up to $20,000 for each violation of R.C. 2919.192, 2919.193, and 2919.194. The state medical board could also limit, revoke, or suspend a physician’s medical license for failing to comply with requirements for making and keeping medical records outlined in R.C. 2919.192 and 2919.193. In addition, a patient could bring a civil action for compensatory and exemplary damages against a provider who violated the testing requirements in R.C. 2919.192. A patient could also bring a civil action against a provider who violated the state-mandated information and written acknowledgment requirements in R.C. 2919.194 and could recover damages in the amount of $10,000 or more.

On March 29, 2024, six plaintiffs filed suit in state court in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas against the State of Ohio, the state medical board, the state department of health, and the prosecutors in the six counties containing abortion clinics in Ohio. The plaintiffs in this suit included a family medicine physician and five abortion providers: Preterm-Cleveland the Women’s Med Group Professional Corporation, Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region, Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, and the Northeast Ohio Women’s Center. The case was assigned to Judge David C. Young. 

Represented by the ACLU of Ohio Foundation, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and private counsel, the plaintiffs alleged that the challenged requirements of the Ohio Revised Code 2317.56 and 2919.192– 2919.194 — the Waiting Period Requirement, the In-Person Requirement, and the State Information Requirement — individually and collectively burdened, penalized, discriminated against, interfered with, and sometimes prohibited patients’ exercise of their right to abortions and providers’ actions to assist them in doing so. The plaintiffs claimed the challenged requirements violated Article I, Section 22 of the Ohio Constitution, which provided a constitutional right to abortion. The plaintiffs sought preliminary and declaratory relief that the challenged requirements were unconstitutional.

Along with the complaint, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, asking the court to enjoin enforcement of R.C. 2317.56, 2919.192, 2919.193, and 2919.194. The plaintiffs argued the challenged requirements forced abortion patients to (1) delay obtaining time sensitive abortion care for at least 24 hours, and often longer, at risk to their health, well-being, and privacy; (2) make an unnecessary, in-person visit to a clinic which—for the vast majority of patients—necessitated jumping through the logistical and financial hoops associated with attending at least two in-person appointments and further delayed their care, amplifying associated risks; and (3) receive state-mandated information that was at best irrelevant and at worst distressing, stigmatizing and misleading, all without medical purpose or countervailing benefit to patient health. In so doing, the challenged requirements burdened, penalized, interfered with, and discriminated against Ohioans in exercising their right to abortions and the plaintiffs in assisting them. And, in some cases, the challenged requirements even prevented Ohioans from obtaining an abortion entirely.

On April 5, 2024, the plaintiffs amended their complaint and included eight new defendants, who were law directors responsible for prosecuting misdemeanor offenses in the counties where the plaintiffs’ abortion clinics were located.

This case remains ongoing.

Summary Authors

Tallulah Wick (4/12/2024)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

24 CV 002634

Docket

March 29, 2024

March 29, 2024

Docket

24 CV 002634

Plaintiffs' Motion for a Preliminary Injunction

March 28, 2024

March 28, 2024

Pleading / Motion / Brief

24 CV 002634

Complaint

March 29, 2024

March 29, 2024

Complaint

24 CV 002634

Amended Complaint

April 5, 2024

April 5, 2024

Complaint

Resources

Docket

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Ohio

Case Type(s):

Reproductive Issues

Key Dates

Filing Date: March 29, 2024

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Five Ohio abortion providers and a physician

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Non-profit NON-religious organization

Attorney Organizations:

ACLU Affiliates (any)

Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

State of Ohio, State

Defendant Type(s):

Law-enforcement

Jurisdiction-wide

Hospital/Health Department

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Available Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Outcome

Prevailing Party: None Yet / None

Nature of Relief:

None yet

Source of Relief:

None yet

Issues

Reproductive rights:

Abortion

Mandatory delay

Reproductive health care (including birth control, abortion, and others)

Undue Burden