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ACLU Sues Ohio Over Budget


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The ACLU of Ohio has challenged H.B. 59, the state budget bill, by exposing three provisions that violate the Ohio Constitution’s “One-Subject Rule,” which requires that legislation contain only one subject. All provisions in a budget bill must relate to the state’s budget and state funding; the three provisions that the ACLU of Ohio opposes concern neither.

If the Court abides by the language of the Ohio Constitution, Article II, Section 15(D)—“No bill shall contain more than one subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its title . . . ,” it should declare H.B. 59 unconstitutional and prohibit the enforcement of the three provisions.

The Parties

Plaintiff: Preterm, an independently run nonprofit organization that has provided safe, accessible abortion care through its licensed surgical facility since 1974.


ACLU of Ohio Legal Team: A team of staff attorneys and lawyers volunteering their time.


  • The State of Ohio;
  • John R. Kasich, Governor of Ohio;
  • Timothy J. McGinty, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor;
  • The Ohio Department of Health;
  • Board members of the State Medical Board of Ohio;
  • The Ohio Department of Job & Family Services; and
  • Michael B. Colbert, Director, Ohio Department of Job & Family Services.

The Three Amendments

Heartbeat and Informed Consent Provisions (2013 Am.Sub.H.B. No. 59, pp. 864-67, 2061)

  • H.B. 59 forces doctors to perform an ultrasound at least twenty-four hours before performing an abortion for the purpose of detecting a fetal heartbeat. 
  • If the doctor detects a heartbeat, he must present that evidence to the patient, as well as the statistical probability of carrying the pregnancy to term.
  • If a doctor performs the abortion without an ultrasound, he can be sued by the patient, be disciplined by the State Medical Board, and face criminal penalties.

Written Transfer Agreement Provisions (2013 Am.Sub.H.B. No. 59, pp. 1549-51, 1625-26)

  • H.B. 59 requires ambulatory surgical facilities to make written agreements with

    local hospitals that dictate the

    procedure for when that hospital would need to receive patients from

    the surgical facility.

  • The amendment forbids public hospitals from entering into these agreements with facilities that do “nontherapeutic abortions” (abortions performed neither to save the life of the mother nor in the circumstances of a rape or incest reported to a law enforcement agency).

  • Public hospitals are prohibited from permitting doctors who have

    privileges to work at the chosen

    hospital to use those privileges to 

    get around this requirement.

Parenting and Pregnancy Program Provisions (2013 Am.Sub.H.B. No. 59, pp. 2161-62)

  • H.B. 59 siphons federal funding from the

    Temporary Assistance for Needy

    Families block grant to private, 

    nonprofit organizations.

  • The purpose of the program is to

    promote childbirth, parenting, and

    alternatives to abortion. However, the 

    private entities to be funded by this

    program may not be involved in, 

    or associated with, abortion-related

    activities, including abortion 

    counseling or referrals, performing

    abortion-related medical procedures, 

    or engaging in supposed “pro-abortion”


The case was filed on October 9, 2013 in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, and Judge Michael J. Russo was assigned to it. As of the date of publication, the ACLU of Ohio is awaiting the State’s answer. Opposing counsel has requested an extension and now must file its answer by December 18.”


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