Reason Roundup

Judge Halts Ohio Law Requiring Burial or Cremation of Aborted Fetuses

Plus: Copyright case a win for Google and fair use, California considering repeal of its "loitering with intent to commit prostitution" law, and more...

|


Judge halts law requiring burial or cremation for aborted fetuses. Ohio cannot start enforcing a mandate that fetal remains be either buried or cremated, a court ruled on Monday. The law was set to take effect today.

Now, Hamilton County Judge Alison Hatheway has temporarily blocked enforcement of the fetal remains measure (Senate Bill 27), which had been signed into law by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine at the end of December. Under the law, Ohio women who received surgical abortions would be asked to choose whether the fetal remains are buried or cremated; if they chose not to make a decision, it would be left up to abortion clinics.

Abortion clinics and their staff who circumvent the rule could face punishment including license suspension, fines, or being charged with a first-degree misdemeanor crime.

But the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Planned Parenthood challenged the new abortion mandate in a lawsuit filed against the Ohio Department of Health and state officials on behalf of several abortion providers. The suit asked that penalties for providers be halted, since "compliance is impossible due to the Ohio Department of Health's failure to establish or issue necessary rules and regulations. The law takes effect on April 6, but the state is not charged with issuing rules until July 5."

"The absence of regulations leaves Ohio abortion providers in an impossible situation," the groups and their allies said in a statement. "Despite the fact that we are in the midst of a global pandemic and there are vast and numerous public health tasks before the Ohio Department of Health, the State passed this frivolous and medically unnecessary law. We simply want reassurance that we won't be punished for our inability to comply with a directive that doesn't exist."

The fetal remains law is only the latest attempt by Ohio Republicans to add more restrictions to abortion access, points out The Enquirer:

Those have included bans on telemedicine abortions; on dilation and evacuation, or D&E, abortions; on abortions in cases where a fetal Down syndrome diagnosis is a factor; and on all abortions after detection of the first fetal heartbeat, which can occur as early as six weeks into pregnancy before many women know they are pregnant. Courts have blocked the latter three laws as constitutional challenges proceed.

The ban on the remote prescription of abortion drugs is also being challenged by Planned Parenthood. "With the law set to take effect April 12, the organization asked for immediate relief from the Hamilton County Common Pleas Court in a lawsuit filed [last Thursday] against the Ohio Department of Health, the state Medical Board and prosecutors in the state's three largest counties," notes the Associated Press.


FREE MINDS

Copyright case a win for Google and fair use. In a Supreme Court decision issued Monday, justices ruled that Google using Oracle's code in its Android operating system was not a violation of federal copyright law. "In a 6-2 decision, the justices overturned a lower court's ruling that Google's inclusion of Oracle's software code in Android did not constitute a fair use under U.S. copyright law," Reuters reports.

"The decision is a major win for competition and consumer choice in the information technology market," said Charles Duan, a senior fellow for technology and innovation policy at the R Street Institute,

More:

Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the majority, said that allowing Oracle to enforce a copyright on its code would harm the public by making it a "lock limiting the future creativity of new programs. Oracle alone would hold the key."…

Oracle's lawsuit accused Google of plagiarizing its Java software by copying 11,330 lines of computer code, as well as the way it is organized, to create Android and reap billions of dollars in revenue. Android, for which developers have created millions of applications, now powers more than 70% of the world's mobile devices.

Google has said it did not copy a computer program but rather used elements of Java's software code needed to operate a computer program or platform. Federal copyright law does not protect mere "methods of operation." The companies also disputed whether Google made fair use of Oracle's software code, making it permissible under the 1976 Copyright Act.


FREE MARKETS

Strict zoning laws are a drag on the economy:


QUICK HITS

• California is considering a repeal of its "loitering with intent to commit prostitution" law. The repeal is backed by advocacy groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and the Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) Los Angeles:

• Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, vetoed a bill that would have banned a range of medical treatments, including puberty blockers, for transgender people under 18.

• Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz responds to recent allegations against him.

• A Lake Washington Institute of Technology professor pushed back against "white fragility" training for faculty and staff. The school investigated her for nine months.

• Audio chatroom app Clubhouse is launching a tipping program: