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The future of abortion in the Tri-State now that Roe has failed

The U.S Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, June 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Manuel Balce Ceneta
The U.S Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, June 8, 2022.

The United States Supreme Court struck down the nearly 50-year-old ruling of Roe v. Wade Friday, which found that a person's right to abortion was protected under the United States Constitution.

That is no more.

"The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority," the court's conservatives wrote in their majority opinion. "The Court overrules those decisions and returns that authority to the people and their elected representatives."

The three liberals dissented.

What does this mean for the laws in our region?

On a recent Cincinnati Edition, host Lucy May spoke to journalists who cover abortion in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, and asked them to explain what would happen in those states if Roe were to fall.

Abortion in Ohio

There are six clinics that provide surgical and medication abortions in Ohio. Republican lawmakers have said they will take action to ban abortions within the framework provided by the supreme court's ruling.

As of Friday, Ohio law bans abortions after six weeks. A federal court lifted a legal hold on the law passed in 2019.

Currently, the law in Ohio bans abortion after 20 weeks. Gov. Mike DeWine signed the so-called "heartbeat bill" in 2019, which bans abortions after six weeks. But it was put on hold by a federal court because the judge ruled it put an "undue burden on a woman's right to choose a pre-viability abortion."

That bill, which bans abortion about six weeks into a pregnancy — before many women even know they are pregnant — was proposed several times before it passed and was signed into law in 2019. It's considered one of the most restrictive in the country.

Abortion in Kentucky

Kentucky's General Assembly passed an omnibus abortion ban this last session that has a number of provisions — but that may not matter much given that Kentucky does have a trigger law, which bans "basically any abortion in Kentucky except to save the life of the mother" once Roe is overturned, explains Courier Journal Investigative Social Services Reporter Deborah Yetter.

Kentucky is one of 13 states that has such a law.

The ACLU of Kentucky says its client, EMW Women's Surgical Center in Louisville, has stopped providing care as a precaution while the legal team analyzes the court opinion. The group says in a statement they are prepared to file a case in state court arguing the Kentucky Constitution allows for the legal right to access abortion.

Come November, voters in Kentucky will also see an amendment to the state constitution on the ballot that, if approved, would establish there is no right to abortion in the state.

"Some people might see that as overkill, but I think the Republican sponsors of that were just trying to cover all the bases in case anyone should make a legal argument that even if the federal right doesn't exist, the state right might still be there," Yetter said.

That amendment will be on the November ballot even with the trigger ban in effect.

Abortion in Indiana

Abortion in Indiana is legal until 22 weeks of pregnancy — and that's still the case even with today's Supreme Court ruling. However, "Indiana has been kind of playing a waiting game," Indiana State Newsroom Senior Reporter Whitney Downard told Cincinnati Edition. "We have not passed any six-week bans or any all-out bans. They're kind of waiting to see what happens on the Supreme Court level. So right now, it's 22 weeks."

Indiana also requires in-person visits for abortion services — no telemedicine. "And we have an 18-hour waiting period," Downard says. "So it has to have two visits."

Jennifer Merritt brings 20 years of "tra-digital" journalism experience to WVXU.