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DeWine Says Planned Parenthood Violated Ohio Rule to Treat Fetal Tissue Humanely


  Attorney General Mike DeWine’s four-month investigation into the activities of Planned Parenthood clinics in Ohio clears the organization of wrongdoing in one way but opens up questions about another practice. Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports.

After the high-profile videos that came out this summer that accused Planned Parenthood of selling fetal body parts, Attorney General Mike DeWine started an investigation into the organization’s three clinics statewide where abortions are performed.

“Our investigation found no evidence of that in the state of Ohio.”

But DeWine says the investigation did raise questions about contracts those abortion clinics in suburban Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati have with medical waste companies and specifically what happens to that material once it leaves the facilities. He says Ohio law requires fetal tissue from abortion clinics, as opposed to hospitals, be disposed of in a humane manner. And DeWine claims the investigation shows that at all three clinics, the remains ultimately end up in landfills, something he says is in violation of the way remains should be handled. So DeWine is filing an injunction, not against the vendors, but with the three Planned Parenthood clinics themselves.

“The buck stops with them.”
Backing for the report
Ohio Right to Life’s Katie Franklin applauds DeWine’s actions.

“We are obviously very appalled and disturbed at what the attorney general found. Obviously, I’m not really all that surprised. We knew there had to be something going on.”

Franklin says while DeWine’s office has been investigating Planned Parenthood, her organization has been working on a bill to address the issue of disposing fetal tissue that DeWine is raising now.

“We’ve been working on legislation for the last few months trying to insure that their dignity will be retained and that abortionists will be limited to what they can do, advocating for humane burial or cremation.”

New allegations are 'flat-out false'
DeWine says until lawmakers come up with a bill, he’s hoping a court will grant an injunction to prevent abortion clinics from using medical waste companies to dispose of remains this way – though he admits he doesn’t have an definitive answer as to how the remains should be disposed of under current law. Naral ProChoice Ohio’s Kellie Copeland is appalled by this.

“They are abusing every opportunity they have in their official capacity to enforce their views and their personal ideology on the rest of Ohioans. To have our top cop coordinating with an anti-choice group that has been using inflammatory rhetoric, it sends shivers down my spine. I have to tell you.”

And Stephanie Kight with Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio says DeWine’s new allegations are flat out false. 

“We did not improperly dispose of any fetal tissue. I mean these are outrageous accusations that appear to be part of that long attack on Planned Parenthood and women’s health and the A.G.’s continued attempt to shame women for making this complicated and important decision in their life.” 

Planned Parenthood says it handles medical tissue like any other health care provider. DeWine says his office didn’t look into how hospitals dispose of their fetal tissue because it wasn’t part of this investigation. But he notes Ohio law has different rules for how abortion clinics and hospitals handle fetal tissue.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment. Jo started her career in Louisville, Kentucky in the mid 80’s when she helped produce a televised presidential debate for ABC News, worked for a creative services company and served as a general assignment report for a commercial radio station. In 1989, she returned back to her native Ohio to work at the WOSU Stations in Columbus where she began a long resume in public radio.