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Judge again blocks Ohio law regulating aborted fetal remains

Protestors with signs advocating for abortion rights. The signs read 'Our daughters deserve choices', 'keep your laws off my body' and 'bans off my body'.
Gayatri Malhotra

Updated February 2, 2022, at 4:53 p.m.

A judge has again blocked an Ohio law that would require fetal remains from surgical abortions to be cremated or buried.

The decision Wednesday marked the second time in a year that a Hamilton County judge has prevented the law from taking effect in a case brought by a group of clinics and the ACLU of Ohio.

An attorney for the abortion clinics who brought the suit, Jessie Hill, said this law targets them.

“Although the state claims that this law is needed because embryos and fertilized eggs have dignity and need to be cremated or buried, it doesn’t apply to miscarriages or to IVF clinics who are exactly managing the same sorts of tissue,” said Hill.

Parties argued the law imposes a funeral ritual on every patient, regardless of religious or spiritual belief, removing their autonomy. The judge found it violates patients’ rights to due process and equal protection, keeping it on hold until their case is heard.

Last spring a judge ruled the Ohio Department of Health hadn't provided rules and forms required to comply with the law and put it on hold. ODH has since supplied those. But in this ruling, the judge decided to continue providing relief for the state’s abortion providers until final judgment is entered in the case. Based on past cases, it is likely that this will be appealed to federal court or the Ohio Supreme Court.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.