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Abortion clinics file a lawsuit to stop new law requiring burial or cremation of aborted fetal remains

abortion opponents (front row) and abortion rights supporters (dressed as Handmaids in back) listen to testimony on an abortion bill in a committee at the Ohio Legislature
Jo Ingles
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Statehouse News Bureau
abortion opponents (front row) and abortion rights supporters (dressed as Handmaids in back) listen to testimony on an abortion bill in a committee at the Ohio Legislature

The new law is set to go into effect on February 8, 2022 but opponents say there are major problems with it.

The new law set to go into effect next month would require abortion clinics to cremate or bury all embryonic and fetal tissue from procedures they perform. But opponents who filed the lawsuit argue it's too vague and contradictory for them to implement.

The ACLU of Ohio’s Freda Levenson says her organization filed suit in the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas on behalf of five abortion clinics because they cannot follow the new rules for the law.

“The law and the implementing rules are extremely burdensome and expensive to comply with – impossible in many regards – and vague and unclear as to how to comply,” Levenson says.

Freda Levenson, Legal Director of ACLU of Ohio
Sam Aberle
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Freda Levensosn, Legal Director of ACLU of Ohio

Levenson says the law is contradictory and says abortion clinics will have difficulty providing burial or cremation for a small cluster of cells. She says that's not possible at the earliest stages of pregnancies.

"It's very, very costly to provide cremation or burial for a small collection of cells. This law applies even to a blastocyte or to a small number of cells or to an embryo," Levenson says.

She says it will result in pregnant people having to wait until later in their pregnancies to seek a surgical abortion, increasing the health risks and costs for the person seeking the abortion.

And she says there's another problem. She says funeral directors are reluctant to work with clinics because they fear repercussions from the state or abortion opponents.

This isn't the first time the law has been the target of legal action. Last April, abortion clinics sued and obtained an order temporarily blocking enforcement of the law because compliance would have been impossible at the time, due to the Ohio Department of Health’s (ODH) failure to provide any of the rules and forms required by SB27. Those rules were finalized on December 30, 2021.

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