CINCINNATI, OHIO — Today, the City of Lebanon declined to defend in federal court its ordinance banning abortion, signing a stipulation not to enforce the ordinance against those challenging the ban, and indicating they will seek to amend the vague and potentially sweeping law that criminalizes those who assist people in accessing abortion care. The case, National Association of Social Workers et al. v. City of Lebanon, Ohio et al., was the first challenge to an abortion ban filed since a draft Supreme Court opinion was leaked suggesting that the Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Although Roe and Casey remain valid law, this legal challenge does not depend on that precedent, and argues that the Lebanon ban violates other federal and state constitutional principles.
Represented by the ACLU of Ohio and Democracy Forward, the National Association of Social Workers and Women Have Options – Ohio have challenged the Lebanon ban as a violation of constitutionally protected rights to due process and freedom of speech, as well as the Ohio constitution. The ban, which is part of a movement to bar abortion in cities and counties throughout the nation, is one of nearly 50 in the country and the first to be adopted in Ohio.
The National Association of Social Workers, Women Have Options – Ohio, the ACLU of Ohio and Democracy Forward released the following joint statement after filing:
“When we sued the City of Lebanon in early May to stop their unlawful abortion ban, they had a choice: defend the ban in court or not. Today, we heard them loud and clear: they have no defense.
For now, the members of NASW and the abortion care advocates at WHO/O – and others who work with them – can continue to do their important work without fear of being criminalized by the ban. Still, no one should have to worry about running afoul of this vague and potentially sweeping law.
Our legal challenge shows how antidemocratic abortion bans like this extend beyond the rights prescribed by Roe and Casey. In this case, the ban violates the due process and free speech rights of Lebanon’s residents, social workers, abortion care advocates, and many others across the state.
We will remain vigilant and monitor how Lebanon attempts to address the ways in which its extreme abortion ban violates the U.S. and Ohio constitutions. Our lawsuit will continue until people’s rights are fully protected. ”