Almost immediately, state officials appealed Jenkins’ injunction to Ohio’s First District Court of Appeals. That court quickly raised the question of whether it had jurisdiction to rule on the injunction, leading to legal briefs from both sides.
Friday’s court decision
The First District Court of Appeals made clear that its decision Friday was a procedural one.
“At this time, we do not weigh the merits of the case; rather, we must determine the threshold question of whether, under Ohio law, we may exercise jurisdiction over the state’s appeal of the preliminary injunction order,” Friday’s ruling said.
And the court’s ruling was that it did not have jurisdiction, saying the state “appealed prematurely.”
“We conclude that we lack jurisdiction over the state’s appeal. We accordingly dismiss this appeal, but of course any aggrieved party can appeal after the trial court issues its final judgment in the case,” the appeals court ruling said. “Our answer on the merits of this dispute and the underlying constitutionality of the statute … must await another day.”
What’s next in the case
Friday’s ruling means the full legal challenge of the Heartbeat Law in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court can proceed. It’s unclear whether that court case might last months, or years.
In that case, the state is arguing that the Ohio Constitution doesn’t mention abortion and therefore doesn’t protect the right to one.
Judge Jenkins knocked that argument in October when he issued his preliminary injunction, saying a right doesn’t have to be named to be protected.
Outside of the courtroom, two different groups announced plans to put Constitutional amendments on the Ohio ballot in 2023 to protect abortion rights.
Reaction to the ruling
The plaintiffs in the case issued a joint statement: “We are pleased that the appeal was correctly dismissed for lack of jurisdiction and that the case will continue before the trial court towards a final decision on the merits. The state will fight us every step of the way, but we know that Senate Bill 23 violates the Ohio Constitution, and we are confident that the law is on our side.”
Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis also issued a statement: “Regardless of what transpires at the lower courts, Ohio’s heartbeat law will ultimately be decided by the Ohio Supreme Court in 2023. We are confident that Ohio’s highest court will rule that nowhere in Ohio’s Constitution does a right to an abortion exist.”
This story contains information from the Associated Press.