Fetal remains law challenged again by Ohio groups

By: - January 10, 2022 4:00 am

Pro-choice activists demonstrate outside the Supreme Court on October 04, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Pro-choice groups in Ohio are asking a court to decide again whether a law regarding disposal of fetal remains after an abortion should stand.

The ACLU of Ohio and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America filed the lawsuit in Hamilton County Common Pleas, the same court in which a judge blocked the law previously.

At issue is Senate Bill 27, passed by the last General Assembly in December 2020.

The law directed the Ohio Department of health to implement and formalize rules and documentation related to burial and cremation of the tissue from surgical abortions.

Misdemeanor charges could be leveled against abortion clinics who don’t follow the regulations, which requires a patient getting an abortion to choose burial or cremation for the remains. If the patient refuses, the abortion clinic itself must choose and document the process of disposing of the remains.

“Fetal remains” are defined in the bill as one or more “zygote, blastocyte, embryo, or fetus” produced “as a product of human conception,” according to bill language.

Lawyers representing abortion clinics in the the suit say a court decision in the case is “critical…to ensure patients are able to exercise their constitutionally protected right to obtain essential health care and determine the course of their own lives.”

“Compliance with SB 27 will have a devastating impact on the ability of patients to have autonomy over their own lives,” said Freda Levenson, ACLU of Ohio legal director, in a statement.

The lawsuit asks the court to block the law from taking effect, thus keeping the ODH from enforcing the measure.

Leaders at Planned Parenthood say the bill is one of many pushed in the last few years promoting “misinformation and propoganda.”

“Pregnant people should be able to follow their own moral and spiritual views and practices when making decisions about how to build their lives, families and futures,” said Jen Moore Conrow, executive director of the Northeast Ohio clinic Preterm-Cleveland.

Hamilton County Judge Alison Hatheway granted an injunction in April 2021, saying the law couldn’t go forward because ODH hadn’t created forms or rules needed to allow clinics to follow the law.

The ODH didn’t finalize rules until December 30, to become effective January 9 of this year.

Abortion clinics have until February 8 to comply with the law, under the current rules.

Anti-abortion lobby Ohio Right to Life called the filing “yet another attempt by the abortion industry to have the court’s legislate from the bench.”

“Ohio Right to Life is confident that this compassionate law will withstand court scrutiny,” said Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life.

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Susan Tebben
Susan Tebben

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.

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