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Abortion Providers File Suit to Block Ohio Law Mandating Fetal Remains Be Buried Or Cremated

— January 7, 2022

Ohio’s controversial law may levy criminal penalties against doctors who don’t ensure that aborted fetal remains receive a proper burial.

Abortion providers and supporters have filed a lawsuit seeking to block a controversial Ohio law requiring that aborted fetal remains be buried or cremated.

According to The Columbus Dispatch, the complaint asks a judge to stop Ohio Senate Bill 27 from taking effect.

While the law was earlier on hold to allow the Ohio Department of Health time to create new rules governing how fetal remains should be “buried or cremated,” the agency recently announced that it had finalized its policies.

Now, Ohio abortion clinics must be in compliance with S.B. 27 by February 8, 2022. If abortion clinics and providers do not follow the state’s new rules, physicians could face first-degree misdemeanor charges, six months in jail, and a $1,000 fine; conversely, people who have abortions will not be subject to any penalties.

The Columbus Dispatch says that the S.B. 27 came into being after former Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine found that many of the state’s abortion clinics use a third-party service to dispose of fetal remains in a Kentucky landfill.

However, American Civil Liberties Union attorneys representing a number of in-state abortion clinics have asked a Hamilton County court to provide a stay.

A gavel. Image via Wikimedia Commons via Flickr/user: Brian Turner. (CCA-BY-2.0).

In its complaint, the A.C.L.U. alleges that the new law forces a “funeral ritual” on every patient, irrespective of their individual religious or spiritual beliefs. Beyond this alleged violation of patients’ First Amendment protections, the A.C.L.U. says that S.B. 27 represents an “unconstitutional” obstacle to women’s right to abortion services.

“Compliance with SB27 will have a devastating impact on the ability of patients to have autonomy over their own lives,” ACLU Legal Director Freda Levenson said in a statement, adding that the state’s latest framework is still lacking in a great many ways.

“The law and the implementing rules are extremely burdensome and expensive to comply with – impossible in many regards – and vague and unclear as to how to comply,” Levenson added.

Anti-abortion activists, though, claim that the A.C.L.U.’s lawsuit is not only a diversion but an attempt to sabotage the legislative system.

Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis, for instance, called the complaint “yet another attempt by the abortion industry to have the courts legislate from the bench.”

“SB 27 signifies the life of a child who has died because of an abortion and provides a proper burial for that child,” he said. “The ACLU will do everything in its power to sterilize abortion and attempt to hide the fact that a successful abortion leads to the death of an innocent child.”

“Planned Parenthood would rather have all aborted babies carted off to landfills in metal containers,” Gonidakis added. “The inhumanity of the ACLU and Planned Parenthood knows no boundaries. Ohio Right to Life is confident that this compassionate law will withstand court scrutiny.”

Levenson, however, suggests these sorts of arguments are irrational and neglect the reality of abortion procedures—oftentimes, it is simply not possible to bury or cremate fetuses that have been terminated in the earliest stages of pregnancy, as they amount to little more than a small cluster of cells.

“It’s very, very costly to provide cremation of burial for a small collection of cells,” she said. “This law applies even to a blastoscyte or to a small number of cells or to an embryo.”

Levenson says that not only will the law force pregnant women to delay abortions until they are later in-term, but that funeral service businesses have indicated reluctance to bury or cremate fetal remains as they fear retaliation from the state as well as anti-abortion activists.


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