Federal Judge Halts Ohio Attorney General’s Action Against Planned Parenthood
On Monday afternoon Judge Edmund A. Sargus, Jr., Chief Judge of the US District Court’s Southern Ohio District, issued a 28-day temporary order restraining Ohio’s Attorney General from seeking to stop the state’s three Planned Parenthood abortion centers from mixing the bodies of aborted babies in with general medical waste and disposing of the mixture in landfills.
At a press conference Friday, Attorney General DeWine announced that an investigation into the three businesses did not show that they exchanged fetal organs or body parts for money, but did show that they improperly disposed of what he termed fetal remains.
Ohio law requires that fetal remains from abortion be disposed of “in a humane manner,” and the Attorney General said that most Ohioans would not consider mixing human remains in with trash in a landfill to be humane.
Rev. Katherine Marple, who heads the Dayton, OH-based ministry Keep Life Legal, agrees. “Being post-abortive for 37 years, I want to know if my child was sold to the highest bidder or dumped in a landfill,” she said in a statement about the investigation’s findings. “Post-abortive women all over the great State of Ohio are forced to go through the tragedy of their abortion over and over again with the new knowledge of their dead children ‘cooked’ before being dumped with common garbage in a common landfill.”
The three Planned Parenthood affiliates, however, call DeWine’s findings “simply not true.”
“Planned Parenthood has contracts with vendors to handle fetal tissue in a respectful manner and in accordance with the law,” Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio said in a statement Friday. “It is irresponsible for the AG to say otherwise.”
Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio’s attorney Al Gerhardstein told the Cincinnati Enquirer that the affiliates have been putting the bodies of aborted babies in landfills for 40 years, and that hospitals handle miscarried babies in the same way. The problem is with Attorney General DeWine, he said — not with the disposal method.
“On Friday, the Ohio attorney general announced a whole new set of rules,” Gerhardstein told the newspaper. “He said that even though, for 40 years, we all knew how fetal tissue should be disposed, [sic] he was going to change the rules and rush to state court and sue Planned Parenthood,”
In what the Columbus Dispatch called an “unusual, but not unprecedented” pre-emption of the Attorney General’s suit, Judge Sargus issued the restraining order after talks between the two parties over the weekend reached an impasse.
The Attorney General’s office had expected to file for the injunction Monday, but Planned Parenthood filed the suit to block that action on Sunday.
“We’re back to business as usual,” Gerhardstein said.
The next hearing on the restraining order will be held January 5th.
Photo © Gail Deibler Finke for Greater Cincinnati Right to Life.
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