The State of Ohio has made international news because of a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood. Kim Palmer, a writer for Reuters, released an article on Dec. 14, 2015 titled “Planned Parenthood files federal lawsuit against Ohio Health department”. The lawsuit claims that Michael DeWine, Ohio attorney general, is trying to restrict PP clinics from using a procedure for disposal of human fetuses that is used by other healthcare providers.
The Ohio attorney general (AG) inspected Planned Parenthood (PP) facilities in Ohio after a video claimed that some PP clinics were selling body parts from aborted fetuses to research facilities. The Ohio AG office cleared PP of Ohio from allegations that it was selling fetal parts. That anti-abortion video has been widely discredited as being edited to reach deceptive conclusions on PP practices on a national level.
DeWine’s claim is that disposal of human body parts in landfills is against Ohio’s administrative procedures. PP’s claim is that DeWine is discrediting this long-established procedure in an attempt to shut down Ohio’s abortion clinics to subvert the Roe v Wade decision. Ohio’s legislature has previously created more restrictive requirements on abortion clinics by requiring a hospital affiliation to continue performing abortions. The Reuter’s article summarizes the key points of the suit by the Ohio AG and the counter-suit by PP.
It comes two days after Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, a Republican, said he would file his own injunction to block those facilities from sending fetal remains to companies that then disposed of them in landfills. DeWine said doing so violated state administrative rules.
The state is now claiming that Planned Parenthood is in violation of this regulation, despite the fact that for decades, Planned Parenthood has followed these regulations and has never been cited by the state for violation,” Ohio Planned Parenthood President Stephanie Kight said on Sunday.
Kight pointed out that PP is following the same procedures as other Ohio healthcare providers in disposal of fetuses. The Ohio Department of Health had not previously commented on the fetal tissue disposal procedure after over 10 years of inspections of PP facilities. Kight claims that the current injunctions against the three PP clinics violates PP’s rights to due process and equal protection under the law.
There are several issues that need to be clarified with regard to the services the PP provide.
- Planned Parenthood uses no federal funding to perform abortions.
- 97% of PP funding is used for wellness care. 3% of funds are used to perform abortions according to PP.
- Contributions to Planned Parenthood are used for wellness services unless specifically earmarked for performance of abortions.
DeWine said that the investigation of PP in Ohio showed no wrong doing, but added a comment on Dec. 11, 2015 regarding the suitability of disposing of fetuses in a landfill.
I don’t think most Ohioans believe this is a proper disposal, a humane disposal.
Several states have attempted to bypass the Roe v Wade decision made by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) by enacting highly restricting legislation on abortion clinics operated by PP and by private physicians. There is another abortion case pending in SCOTUS regarding restrictions on abortion clinics in Texas.
For a complete review of the history of government involvement in abortions, the Supreme Court Review provides an article dated Dec. 14, 2015 titled “Abortion”. Part of this review includes Roe v Wade, with cases going back to the late 1800s up to current SCOTUS cases under review. This review provides documentation of prohibition of partial birth abortions, and restrictions on abortion clinics adopted by states to attempt to shut down the clinics.
In 2003, the U.S. Congress and President George W. Bush enacted the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, which banned one type of partial birth abortions unless necessary to preserve the life of the mother. The law did not contain a “health” exception. Leroy Carhart joined by other doctors and Planned Parenthood challenged the constitutionality of the Act under the Court’s prior precedents. The doctors and Planned Parenthood argued that the Act violated the Constitution since it imposed an undue burden on the abortion right by barring use of a procedure that is occasionally necessary for the preservation of the health of the mother. Additionally, the doctors and Planned Parenthood argued that the Act was unconstitutionally vague since it could be interpreted to apply to other abortion procedures.
In 2007, in Gonzales v. Carhart, the Court in a 5-4 opinion held that the Act did not impose an undue burden on the abortion decision because if the mother’s health was in danger alternative procedures existed to allow for her protection. The factual record was unclear as to whether the abortion procedure banned by the statute was ever needed to preserve the health of the mother. In addition, the Court held that the Act was not unconstitutionally vague because doctors of ordinary intelligence could read the Act and understand what procedure was being prohibited.
The Supreme Court has not heard an abortion case since Gonzales in 2007. On November 13, 2015, however, the Court granted review to Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, which considers a Texas law that would impose new requirements on abortion clinics, which would likely cause over half of the abortion clinics in Texas to close.
The increasingly politicized SCOTUS membership now has the opportunity to revisit abortion clinic restrictions and abortion rights. The attempt to restrict Planned Parenthood operation is illogical since the overwhelming majority of PP funding is used to preserve the health of women and to assist them in obtaining birth control and do birth control planning. Those that find abortion abhorrent, and at the same time oppose birth control, are denying women the right to have sex for any purpose than procreation. This violates logic and separation of church and state.