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New Bills Address Disposal of Fetal Remains After Abortions

Lauren Sega Lauren Sega New Bills Address Disposal of Fetal Remains After AbortionsPhoto by Walker Evans.
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The start of the year came with two new bills placing restrictions around the abortion process for Ohio women. House Bills 417 and 419 come with mandates for the disposal of fetal remains, including a provision that a woman seeking an abortion must choose either cremation or burial. There is no option for donating the tissue to research.

These bills are part of the ongoing response to videos created alleging Planned Parenthood sells fetal tissue, and Attorney General Mike DeWine’s accusation that the facilities are dumping aborted fetuses in landfills.

“I believe we can no longer take a neutral stance on these issues in regards to the disposition of aborted children,” said Kyle Koehler (R-Springfield), one of HB 417’s sponsors, in a press release. “As legislators, we must step up and reign in what appears to be an all-encompassing disregard for the dignity of life.”

HB 419, sponsored by representatives Barbara Sears (R-Monclova Twp.) and Timothy Ginter (R-Salem) would require the Director of Health “adopt rules requiring any facility authorized to perform abortions to only dispose the product of human conception in a matter limited to burial or cremation or by an approved hospital type of incineration.”

HB 417, also sponsored by Representative Robert McColley (R-Napoleon), requires documentation of the abortion and the method used to dispose of the remains.

How this will be enforced and who will have access to these records has yet to be determined. Women who terminate their pregnancy already have the option to have a death certificate, and the Ohio Department of Health has always kept a record of the number of abortions providers perform.

NARAL Pro-choice Ohio Communications Manager Gabriel Mann said the records requirement in HB 417 raises concerns for its potential to breach women’s privacy. He said if this means every abortion needs a death certificate, there isn’t a mechanism in the bill keeping them from becoming public records.

“There’s nothing that will prevent Ohio Right to Life or some other extremist anti-abortion group from creating a database of women across the state who’ve had an abortion,” he said. “The records issue here is something that we are taking quite seriously.”

Pro-choice and anti-choice groups both strive for less abortions from opposing sides. Women’s reproductive rights groups have pushed for more comprehensive sex education and affordable or free birth control.

Simultaneously, several restrictions on access to an abortion have passed the state legislature over the years, including a mandatory 24-hour waiting period, required post-procedure counseling, and the right for any medical facility to refuse to provide an abortion.

“Even though you might point at a single restriction and say what’s the problem with this, what’s the problem with this, it’s the whole thing together that’s part of a long, ongoing campaign by Governor Kasich and his allies to try and shut down clinics and stop women from having these options,” Mann said.

A second round of public testimony against these bills will take place at 9:30 a.m. next Wednesday at the statehouse.

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