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Wins for abortion rights advocates in Arizona, Ohio with new court rulings


(NEW YORK) — Restrictive abortion laws were temporarily struck down Friday in Ohio and Arizona, two states where abortion services have been in flux in the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned.

In Ohio, a six-week abortion ban is indefinitely blocked while a state constitutional challenge brought by the ACLU of Ohio on behalf of abortion providers in the state proceeds.

Last month, Hamilton County Judge Christian Jenkins granted a 14-day restraining order against the law, which prohibits most abortions after the “fetal heartbeat” is detected, before granting the ACLU of Ohio’s request for a preliminary injunction on Friday.

The latest ruling means abortion up until 22 weeks will be legal in the state for the duration of the case.

“We are thrilled with this second major victory and relieved that patients in Ohio can continue to access abortion as we work to fight this unjust and dangerous ban in court,” the ACLU of Ohio said in a statement.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is expected to appeal the decision.

Meanwhile, in Arizona, a court issued a stay Friday on a near-total abortion ban with criminal penalties, temporarily blocking enforcement of the ban while an appeal filed by Planned Parenthood Arizona proceeds.

The century-old abortion ban had gone into effect in late September after the Pima County Superior Court lifted an injunction on the abortion ban. The 1901 law, which has language that can be tracked back to 1864, provides no exceptions for rape, incest or fetal abnormalities and makes performing abortions punishable by two to five years in prison.

A 15-week ban, which prohibits abortions “except in a medical emergency,” was passed by the Arizona legislature earlier this year. After the Supreme Court overturned Roe, state Attorney General Mark Brnovich said he would seek to lift the injunction on the older, more restrictive law.

Since Roe was overturned, Arizona abortion providers have either suspended or limited services due to confusion over the two bans.

In issuing the stay, Judge Peter Eckerstrom stated, “Arizona courts have a responsibility to attempt to harmonize all of this state’s relevant statutes. The court further concludes the balance of hardships weigh strongly in favor of granting the stay, given the acute need of healthcare providers, prosecuting agencies, and the public for legal clarity as to the application of our criminal laws.”

Friday’s decision allows abortion care to resume in the state immediately.

“While today’s ruling brings temporary respite to Arizonans, the ongoing threat of this extreme, near-total abortion ban that has no regard for the health care of those across the state, including survivors of rape or incest remains very real,” Brittany Fonteno, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona, said in a statement. “For over 100 days, Arizonans have experienced pure chaos and confusion and it has been traumatic for our physicians and staff who have been forced to notify patients that they can no longer care for them.”

ABC News’ Mary Kekatos and Libby Cathey contributed to this report.

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