Reproductive Rights

Ohio and Planned Parenthood Settle Federal Lawsuit

Planned Parenthood reached a settlement with the state of Ohio last week, nearly six months after the healthcare provider filed a federal lawsuit seeking to prevent state Attorney General Mike DeWine from unfairly prosecuting the organization.

In December, at a press conference, DeWine announced his intent to take legal action against Planned Parenthood for alleged improper handling of fetal tissue, a claim that Planned Parenthood called “bogus.” At the time of the announcement, Planned Parenthood had not received any formal communication from the Ohio Department of Health concerning DeWine’s allegations. Further, the Ohio Department of Health, which inspects Planned Parenthood’s health centers annually, has never raised any concerns regarding the healthcare provider’s practices.

DeWine’s allegation, however, came after the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released heavily-edited, deceptive videos falsely accusing Planned Parenthood of selling fetal tissue, a claim that has been repeatedly debunked through independent investigations in 13 states—including a five-month state investigation in Ohio—and by three Congressional Committee investigations in the U.S. House of Representatives. Eight states found no credible evidence to even begin an investigation into CMP’s malicious claims.

As part of the settlement in Ohio, the state has agreed not to prosecute Planned Parenthood under its law on fetal tissue disposal, a law that Planned Parenthood argued was unconstitutionally vague. Ohio will also have to pay for Planned Parenthood’s legal fees. Chief Judge Edmund A. Sargus, Jr. will keep jurisdiction over the case for two years in order to enforce the settlement.

Meanwhile, Ohio legislators have introduced three bills addressing fetal tissue disposal. A bill that would require that fetal remains be buried or cremated passed the Ohio Senate just last month.

Iris E. Harvey, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, denounced the bill. “This bill has nothing to do with patient safety,” said Harvey. “This is just a smaller part of a coordinated attempt by anti-abortion politicians to place additional restrictions on medical providers in an effort to eliminate access to safe, legal abortion.”

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