© 2024 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Supporter Of Human Remains Bill Urges Lawmakers To Clarify Language In Fetal Remains Bills

Barry Sheets with Citizens for Community Values testifies in front of Ohio House Committee
Jo Ingles
Barry Sheets with Citizens for Community Values testifies in front of Ohio House Committee

The controversial bill that would change the way fetal remains are handled in Ohio needs some clarification, according to a conservative group.

Opponents of the two bills that would require so-called humane disposal of fetal remains say the legislation is too vague.  Even one backer agrees on that point. The leader of the Citizens for Community Values in Cincinnati, Barry Sheets, says the language is too ambiguous and urged the House committee considering the bills to clarify it.

“It would be our request to use language referencing fetal death directly in the definition of fetal remains.”

Sheets explained he considers cremation or burial should only apply to the fetus itself, not the placenta or medical supplies. He thinks the language in the bill should make that distinction so a fetus is cremated on its own. But Kayla Atchison with Ohio Right to Life, said the language in the bills would likely be cleaned up later in the process - especially the part of it that deals with the form women seeking abortions would have to sign. Opponents of the bill have raised concerns about the possibility that an amended version of the fetal death certificate will be used as the way to designate the woman’s choice about the determination of fetal remains. Those state issued public documents are now available in cases where a fetus dies prior to the point of viability. But Atchison says those will not be used, and that will be clarified soon.

“I think you’ll soon see that there will be some clarification with language. I mean, obviously we are still working through the legislative process on this bill. Will you see fetal death certificates added? Absolutely not. We are looking at some strategies that have been done in other states where a burial transmit permit is just a checked off box that would be added to the abortion form and that would be something that would be private and not released to the general public.”

But Gabriel Mann with NARAL ProChoice Ohio takes issue with more than just this one point. He says the bill is not necessary to protect the health of Ohio women or to make sure fetal remains are treated humanely – he says it’s a reaction to an Attorney General’s office investigation that went nowhere.

“You know the bill is vague because the entire basis of it is to cover up for Mike DeWine’s (Ohio Attorney General) false allegations against Planned Parenthood. When he accused them of selling baby parts, he had to admit that wasn’t the truth. And nobody wanted that to be the lead story. So now they have fabricated these suggestions about what Planned Parenthood does and they have to have these bills to go along with it. None of this is necessary. It’s just political smoke and mirrors.”

Mann notes there has been no finding of criminal wrongdoing against Planned Parenthood in the wake of controversial videos claiming the organization sold fetal body parts. Two of the people who were instrumental in making that video are being prosecuted in Texas right now with felony charges of tampering with a governmental record and one of them has been charged with a misdemeanor related to purchasing human organs.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

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.