Ohio City’s Abortion Ban Goes Into Effect After Abortion Activists Drop Lawsuit

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jan 27, 2023   |   6:10PM   |   Lebanon, Ohio

The City of Lebanon, Ohio may begin enforcing its Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance again after pro-abortion groups agreed to drop their lawsuit earlier this month.

Lebanon leaders and the groups recently reached an agreement that leaves the city-wide abortion ban intact but adds language to the ordinance to make clear that it does not prohibit free speech, according to the Associated Press.

Mark Lee Dickson, leader of the Sanctuary City for the Unborn effort and a director with Right to Life of East Texas, said the agreement is a victory for unborn babies in Ohio.

“Abortion remains illegal in Lebanon, so this is a great victory for Ohio,” he told the AP. “It’s worth pointing out that the opposition claims that we were doing more than we were actually doing. The fact that we clarified our position does not take away from the abortion ban.”

In 2021, the Lebanon City Council became the first in Ohio to approve a Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance, which bans killing unborn babies in abortions within city limits. More than 60 other cities across the U.S. have passed similar ordinances.

The ACLU, National Association of Social Workers and Abortion Fund of Ohio sued the city, claiming the ordinance restricted their right to counsel women about abortions, according to the report.

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But Lebanon city attorney Mark Yurick said city leaders were not trying to restrict free speech, and the amended ordinance clarifies that.

For now, aborting unborn babies is still legal in the rest of Ohio.

The state heartbeat law bans abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy, and was in effect for a little while last year after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. However, pro-abortion groups sued, and a state judge temporarily blocked enforcement of the law. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is appealing.

The City of Lebanon does not have an abortion facility, but the ordinance prevents one from opening there. It also will combat the rise of mail-order abortion drugs, which the Biden administration began allowing in late 2021.

More than 60 cities in Texas, Nebraska, Ohio, Louisiana, Iowa and New Mexico have passed Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinances within the past several years.

Although abortion activists have threatened legal action, the cities have been successful defending their pro-life ordinances in court, including the City of Lubbock, Texas where Planned Parenthood was forced to stop aborting unborn babies.

In 2020, the American Civil Liberties Union dropped another lawsuit challenging several Texas cities’ pro-life ordinances.

A growing grassroots movement is working to protect unborn babies at the local level. In the past several years, other cities and counties have passed pro-life resolutions, which are statements of support but not enforceable law, that recognize unborn babies’ right to life. In Arkansas, at least 20 counties and 13 cities and towns have passed pro-life resolutions, according to the Family Council of Arkansas. Several North Carolina counties passed pro-life resolutions recently, too.