U.S. District Court Permanently Blocks ORC 3701.034

Planned Parenthood LogoThe U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio Western Division recently granted a Permanent Injunction to Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio (PPGO) and Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region (PPSOR), blocking the enforcement of Ohio Revised Code Section 3701.034.  On 5/23/16, the Court granted a temporary restraining order to PPGO and PPSOR in this matter.  ORC 3701.034 was codified by House Bill 294, which was to become effective 5/23/16.  Among other measures, the statute requires the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) to ensure that all state funds and certain federal funds are not used to perform or promote nontherapeutic abortions, or to contract or affiliate with any entity that performs or promotes nontherapeutic abortions.  In its ruling for a Permanent Injunction, the Court concluded ORC 3701.034 violates the First Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, “because as a condition of receiving government funds, recipients must abandon their right to engage in free speech and association … and their right to provide abortion services.”  The Court did not address the Plaintiffs’ Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Clause claim, because its decision already concluded “the ‘performing nontherapeutic’ and ‘promoting nontherapeutic abortions’ provisions” of ORC 3701.034 are unconstitutional.  It is anticipated that Ohio will appeal the ruling.