COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP/WCMH) -Human fetal tissue, thrown out with the trash. That’s what Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says Planned Parenthood has been doing.
An investigation into charges that the agency was selling fetal tissue came up empty. But the AG’s office says it found that aborted fetuses were ending up in landfills.
But it could come down to the definition of “humane.”
Ohio Administrative Code requires that a “fetus shall be disposed of in a humane manner.” Planned Parenthood says all fetal tissue is disposed of in accordance with that code and the agency’s supporters say it’s all political.
Gabriel Mann says, “Women who are seeking reproductive health care aren’t doing it for a political statement.”
Mann is an advocate for women’s reproductive health. He works with NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio and says allegations that fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood is ending up next to your trash are just another attack on women’s reproductive care.
Attorney General Mike DeWine says, “I just don’t think Ohioans thought that fetuses were being disposed of in landfills.”
It comes down to a process called Autoclave. Fetal tissue is steamed to kill off any infectious material before it’s discarded. DeWine says that material ends up in a landfill.
“Our job was to find the facts, those are the facts and we have made those facts public today,” says DeWine.
“The law says that biological tissue has to be handled in a way that’s humane. It doesn’t specify it any further,” says Mann.
In a teleconference Friday Stephanie Kight, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio said the agency contracts with companies who follow the law in the disposal of fetal tissue, but could not tell NBC4 where that tissue ended up.
Gabriel Mann says it’s just more politics.
“All of these attacks are political because none of them; no abortion ban, no defunding bill, nothing has improved health care for women,” he says. “Everything is completely medically unnecessary. It’s purely for political gain.”
There are some states that require fetal tissue be disposed of via cremation, burial, or in a manner directed by the Commissioner of Health.
DeWine wants to keep fetal tissue out of landfills. He’s filing for an injunction on the disposal method. Republicans in the Ohio House of Representatives could tackle the definition of humane as early as Monday.
“What I anticipate happening is the legislature is going to specify specifically the proper disposal of an aborted fetus,” he said.
“It is not to shut down Planned Parenthood, but to stop the method of disposal they are using.”
DeWine announced the investigation in mid-July after anti-abortion activists began releasing undercover videos they said showed Planned Parenthood personnel negotiating the sale of fetal organs.
Such fetal tissue donations are illegal in Ohio. A Planned Parenthood state leader has said no donation program exists here, in accordance with the law.
Planned Parenthood released the following statement in response to DeWine’s claims:
“As we have always maintained, and as the Attorney General has now confirmed, the original accusations that Planned Parenthood “sold fetal tissue” were completely unfounded and untrue.
“These new allegations by the Attorney General that we are improperly disposing of fetal tissue are flat-out false. Planned Parenthood handles medical tissue like any other quality health care provider. Our agreements with vendors all require them to follow state law, and dispose of tissue accordingly. If they are not, then I will take swift action.
“This is an administration that has done everything possible to eliminate access to abortion in Ohio — secretly writing laws, working to close health centers, and even appointing the head of Ohio Right to Life to the state medical board. We are seriously concerned that this report is not the result of meaningful investigation, but instead yet another attack on women’s access to health care in the state of Ohio intended to end our ability to continue to provide safe, legal abortion.”
-Stephanie Kight, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio