THE LATEST: On June 20, 2023, a coalition of the country’s leading medical organizations representing hundreds of thousands of physicians dedicated to improving the health and well-being of women and families—including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the American Medical Association (AMA), and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM)—filed a friend of the court brief in the Supreme Court of Ohio in support of clinicians’ ability to assert claims on behalf of patients seeking abortion care. The coalition urges the Court to affirm earlier rulings by Ohio courts on the standing doctors have to challenge laws that ban patient care.   

The case is Preterm-Cleveland v. Yost, a challenge to Ohio’s SB 23 which bans abortion starting at approximately six weeks of pregnancy. The coalition is represented by Democracy Forward Foundation and The Chandra Law Firm LLC. 

In the brief, the coalition provides the court with research and information regarding the closeness and significance of the patient-physician relationship, which courts have long recognized is sufficient to establish a physician’s standing to bring a challenge on behalf of her patient. Further, the brief details the numerous hindrances patients face in asserting their own rights in light of the circumstances brought by SB 23, including a lack of resources and stigma around abortion access. Likewise, failing to preserve abortion access in Ohio would “negatively impact the health and wellbeing of people in Ohio.”


On September 2, 2022, a coalition of  physicians and medical care facilities challenged Ohio’s SB 23, a law banning abortion starting at approximately six weeks of pregnancy. The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Ohio, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and WilmerHale filed this  lawsuit in the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas on behalf of Preterm-Cleveland, Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio, Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, Women’s Med Group Professional Corporation, Northeast Ohio Women’s Center d/b/a Toledo Women’s Center, and Dr. Sharon Liner, an individual abortion provider, to protect the right to abortion in Ohio under the Ohio Constitution. That court blocked SB 23 as the case proceeds through the court system so that abortion continues to be lawful in most cases in Ohio up to 21 weeks and six days gestation. 

The case is on appeal at the Supreme Court of Ohio, and the court is not currently considering the merits of the underlying claims at this stage. The questions before the court now are whether these physicians and medical care facilities have standing to bring this case on behalf of their patients’ interests, and whether the Ohio appeals court was correct in its determination that the State could not appeal the preliminary injunction in order to preserve the status quo of abortion access in Ohio.  

This question of standing has implications for both clinical practice and patient health.

Privacy, stigma, and cost concerns can hinder patients’ ability to advocate for their own constitutional rights to abortion care. These rights will not be properly defended unless physicians have standing to do so on their patients’ behalf. Any argument that there is not a “ close relationship” between clinicians and those seeking abortion care, or an assertion that those seeking care are not hindered in advocating for their own rights, is medically inaccurate and fails to appreciate clinical practice and patient experience.