COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Friday said he won’t ask a state court to enforce a state rule against Planned Parenthood requiring abortion clinics to dispose of fetal remains in a “humane” manner.
Planned Parenthood had already succeeded in at least temporarily blocking Mr. DeWine’s path, having gotten a federal temporary restraining order to keep the Ohio Department of Health from enforcing its interpretation of a 40-year-old state regulation.
Friday’s decision by the attorney general does not represent a settlement in the federal litigation. U.S. District Court Chief Judge Edmund A. Sargus, Jr. issued an order on Monday that prevents Mr. DeWine from taking legal action until at least mid-January while the judge considers Planned Parenthood’s contention that the rule is being arbitrarily applied to its clinics by Mr. DeWine and Gov. John Kasich’s administration.
Mr. DeWine, a Republican, said his latest decision “reflects both the judge’s ruling Monday and the stated intentions of the Ohio General Assembly to further clarify humane procedures for disposing of aborted fetuses.”
He also pointed to the fact that the Planned Parenthood abortion clinics in Columbus, Cincinnati, and the Cleveland suburb of Bedford Heights have since switched waste disposal vendors.
“Mike DeWine’s retreat in Ohio should serve as a warning to other states (that) these baseless and inflammatory political attacks are not going to fly,” said Dawn Laguens, vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
“Lies and extreme politicians will not stop Planned Parenthood from providing essential reproductive health care, including safe and legal abortion, in Ohio and across the country,” she said.
Mr. DeWine announced on Dec. 11 that his office’s investigation of Planned Parenthood showed its Ohio clinics had not sold fetal tissue from abortions for research in violation of a state law prohibiting such action. That investigation was triggered by videos secretly recorded elsewhere by pro-life advocates that featured Planned Parenthood representatives discussing fees for fetal tissue.
But the pro-life Mr. DeWine went on to say his investigation revealed fetal tissue from at least the Cincinnati and Columbus clinics ended up in a Kentucky landfill, which he suggested violates a state health regulation requiring the “humane” treatment of such tissue.
House Republicans this week announced plans to introduce bills requiring the state to clarify that “humane” disposal rule, limiting options to cremation and burial. Patients would have to decide which method would be employed.
“I am very pleased that the General Assembly intends to establish clear standards which ensure that gruesome practice does not continue in Ohio,” Mr. DeWine said.
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