- Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine this week signed legislation that would require remains from a surgical abortion be either buried or cremated.
- DeWine, a Republican, who has previously supported controversial and restrictive abortion legislation, was expected to sign the bill.
- Other states have passed or at least considered similar bills, and the Supreme Court upheld similar legislation in Indiana in 2019.
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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Wednesday signed a bill that requiring that remains from a surgical abortion be either buried or cremated in the state’s latest attempt to limit or impose restrictions on reproductive rights, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.
The Columbus Dispatch previously reported that the Ohio House in December had passed Senate Bill 27, which had passed in the state Senate earlier last year, by a vote of 60-35. All Republicans in the House and just one Democrat voted in favor of the bill. The legislation previously passed the Ohio Senate in March.
Under existing Ohio law, disposal of any fetal remains, including remains from abortions, miscarriages, or embryos in fertility clinics was not regulated other than the fact was done in a “humane” way, the Dispatch reported. The bill signed Wednesday would only change the rules for abortion providers, requiring that clinics develop and comply with written guidelines for the cremation or burial of a fetus.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican elected to office in 2018, was expected to sign the bill into law. The Ohio governor has previously signed in controversial and restrictive abortion legislation into law. In April 2019, as one of his first moves as governor, DeWine signed a measure known as the “Heartbeat” bill into law, prohibiting abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected.
Ohio’s previous governor, Republican John Kasich, had in 2016 declined to sign similar legislation, arguing that its passage would likely initiate a slew of hard-to-win legal battles.
As the Enquirer noted, the new law was sparked from DeWine’s prior investigation as the state’s attorney general into whether Planned Parenthood was selling fetal tissue. While the organization was not, DeWine took issue with the disposal of fetal tissue in a landfill, arguing it did not meet the “humane” requirement under Ohio law, according to the report.
Ohio is not the first state to consider — or implement — a law targeting the remains of an abortion. The Supreme Court in 2019 upheld a similar Indiana law requiring abortion remains to be buried or cremated, signed into law in 2016 by Vice President Mike Pence, during his time as the governor of Indiana.
Last year, lawmakers considered similar legislation in Pennsylvania.
Several groups that support abortion rights in Ohio have opposed the legislation, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio.
“The ACLU of Ohio opposes SB 27 because it serves no legitimate medical purpose and is an obvious attempt to inconvenience patients, shut down abortion providers, and imprison doctors who do not comply with the numerous nonsensical regulations found in this bill,” Gary Daniels, the ACLU of Ohio’s chief lobbyist said in written testimony opposing the bill.
Daniels noted the bill only applies to abortion providers and not to Ohio jails and prisons, or to fertility clinics who destroy embryos, calling it “legislative harassment.”
Pro-life groups applauded the legislation.
“This legislation is attempting to add structure and policy to this process,” Dayton Right to Life President Margie Christie said in submitted testimony, the Columbus Dispatch reported. “This legislation strictly addresses the disposition of the remains. It is not infringing on a woman’s right to choose and in no way burdens her choice. The choice has, at this point, been made.”