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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signs bill requiring fetal remains be buried or cremated

Cincinnati Enquirer logo Cincinnati Enquirer 12/31/2020 Jessie Balmert, Cincinnati Enquirer
a group of people standing in front of a crowd: People rally to support and oppose the "heartbeat bill" outside the Ohio House of Representatives chamber at the Ohio Statehouse on April, 10, 2019. © Jackie Borchardt/Cincinnati Enquirer People rally to support and oppose the "heartbeat bill" outside the Ohio House of Representatives chamber at the Ohio Statehouse on April, 10, 2019.

COLUMBUS – What started with then-Attorney General Mike DeWine's 2015 investigation into Planned Parenthood ended with the Republican governor signing a bill on Wednesday that requires fetal remains be buried or cremated.

Senate Bill 27 requires any zygote, blastocyte, embryo or fetus from a surgical abortion to be buried or cremated. Any woman who obtains an abortion in Ohio would be informed prior to the procedure that she can choose the final disposition of the fetal remains. 

If she doesn't choose a location, the abortion facility would select a location and pay for the burial or cremation. If the clinic does not, individuals there could face a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. 

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Opponents of Senate Bill 27 say the changes invade women's privacy and add unnecessary regulations for abortion providers. 

"Not only is Senate Bill 27 unconstitutional and medically unnecessary, it also adds yet another barrier for patients who are trying to access abortion services – which is the legislature’s real goal," said Lauren Blauvelt-Copelin, vice president of government affairs and public advocacy at Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio.

Proponents of the new law say it's about dignity for the unborn. 

"Whether pro-life or pro-choice, everyone should be able to agree that the bodies’ of babies should never be thrown into the trash," said Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life. "The unborn victims of abortion deserve the same basic decency that we afford to all humans: a dignified burial."

The law was prompted by an investigation DeWine commissioned while state attorney general. He probed whether Planned Parenthood was selling fetal tissue in Ohio. It wasn't. 

But the investigation raised concerns about how a Planned Parenthood contractor disposed of fetal remains into a Kentucky landfill. Ohio law specified only that disposal be "humane" and DeWine argued Planned Parenthood wasn't meeting that mark.  

DeWine has consistently supported restrictions on access to abortions. Last year, he signed the state's most restrictive abortion ban, which would prohibit them as soon as six weeks into a woman's pregnancy. That law, called the "heartbeat bill," is being challenged in court.

jbalmert@gannett.com

@jbalmert

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signs bill requiring fetal remains be buried or cremated

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