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Senate passes bill asking women to decide on disposal of aborted fetal remains
By Maggie Prosser
(March 27, 2019) — The Ohio Senate approved new regulations Wednesday involving the disposal of aborted fetal remains, despite concerns that the measure is another swing at abortion rights.
Senate Bill 27 would require aborted remains to be cremated or buried, per the decision of the woman or abortion provider. The bill also would require documentation of the procedure. It does not apply to stillborn babies.
“This seeks to honor the dignity of the unborn, much as we would for a relative that has passed away,” bill sponsor Sen. Joe Uecker, R-Loveland, said.
″(It) ensures procedures are in place to properly dispose of fetal remains. It does not restrict a woman’s right to abortion.”
The bill passed 24-7. Central Ohio Sens. Andrew Brenner, R-Powell, and Stephanie Kunze, R-Hilliard, voted in favor of the measure. Sen. Hearcel Craig, D-Columbus, voted against the bill, and Sen. Tina Maharath, D-Canal Winchester, was not present. Senate Bill 27, which still must be presented to the House, is a reiteration of a bill that already has passed in the chamber twice. Perceived need for the bill came in 2015, when then-Attorney General Mike DeWine alleged that Ohio abortion clinics were “steam cooking” and disposing of fetal remains in Kentucky landfills. Planned Parenthood denied the allegations. Nationwide, Planned Parenthood was accused of selling fetal remains, though DeWine concluded that didn’t occur in Ohio.
“Aborted babies deserve to be treated with dignity in their death, and that is exactly what the Unborn Child Dignity Act seeks to do,” said Jamieson Gordon, spokeswoman for Ohio Right to Life. “This simple clarification of Ohio law will give women greater informed consent and ensure that unborn children are treated with the respect that every human person deserves.”
Opponents say the bill shames women and further restricts access to abortion. Sen. Nickie Antonio, D-Lakewood, argued that the extra bureaucracy would add a burden to women during an already emotional time.
“This bill isn’t about making sure women have options, it’s about limiting which options exist,” NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Deputy Director Jaime Miracle said. “It’s about shaming women who choose to have an abortion and the medical professionals who provide abortion care, and it’s about putting abortion out of reach for individuals across our state.”
The Senate passed the controversial “Heartbeat Bill” in early March, which prohibits abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. A federal court recently blocked an Ohio ban on the dilation and evacuation abortion method, and upheld Ohio’s ability to defund abortion providers. Similar legislation has passed in Texas and Indiana, and both were struck down by high courts. Indiana has since appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“SB 27 is so misguided and ignorant of the reproductive system and process … making it perhaps the most radical fetal tissue disposal bill in the nation,” said Gary Daniels of ACLU-Ohio. “The Ohio General Assembly is churning out abortion ban after abortion ban, one more audacious than the next.”