Columbus, OH -- A federal court today issued a temporary restraining order to protect women’s access to safe, legal abortion in Ohio. The injunction will remain in place until Jan 11, with a further hearing to occur on Jan 4. Politicians in Ohio, including the Governor and Attorney General, have done everything possible to eliminate access to safe, legal abortion --secretly writing abortion restrictions into law, enacting 17 anti-women’s health measures in the last five years, and even appointing the head of Ohio Right to Life to the state medical board. In recent years, Ohio has shuttered over one third of health centers that provide abortion in the state, more than any other state but Texas, even forcing women to cross the border into Michigan to get abortions. Earlier today, politicians announced plans to introduce legislation to further restrict access to abortion when session reconvenes in January.
This court victory comes after Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine made inflammatory and false allegations against Planned Parenthood -- claiming in a press conference on Friday that the nonprofit improperly handled fetal tissue, which is absolutely not true. Attorneys for Planned Parenthood affiliates in Ohio filed suit on Sunday in federal court to protect access to safe, legal abortion for Ohioans and prevent DeWine from intruding in women’s medical decisions. In its lawsuit, Planned Parenthood made clear that:
- Planned Parenthood has agreements with medical removal companies who handle fetal tissue respectfully and safely, in accordance with the law that’s been in place for 40 years in Ohio.
- Planned Parenthood handles fetal tissues just like other health care providers handle all sorts of medical material.
- The false claims are motivated by politics, not by the facts and not by medicine, and are intended to block women’s access to safe, legal abortion in the state.
Statement from Jerry Lawson, CEO of Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio:
“We applaud the court for protecting women’s access to safe, legal abortion in Ohio. Planned Parenthood handles medical tissue like other health care providers do. And just like most people would expect, we work with medical removal companies to handle fetal tissue respectfully and safely. We will continue to fight back against these political attacks every step of the way and our doors will remain open to all Ohioans --- no matter what.”
Statement from Stephanie Kight, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio:
“This ruling shows that baseless, inflammatory political attacks against Planned Parenthood have once again fallen apart. The reality is that we handle medical tissue just like other health care providers do, and we always have. Politicians in Ohio have proven they will stop at nothing to ban abortion in all cases in our state, but today, we won an important victory for women and those who care about them. Planned Parenthood will continue in our mission to provide health care to our communities--no matter what."
The temporary restraining order will prevent the state from manipulating existing regulations --- which have been in place for 40 years --- in a politically motivated effort to restrict access to abortion at Planned Parenthood while its case proceeds. Planned Parenthood’s health centers comply with all laws and regulations that require safe fetal tissue disposal that is respectful. Fetal tissue is handled by a professional removal company, just like other health care providers use for all types of medical material. Ohio’s requirements for how fetal tissue should be disposed of have been in place since 1974. 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. In fact, the Ohio Department of Health has inspected Planned Parenthood’s health centers annually for the last decade, and at no time have they raised concerns about these practices.
On Friday, Ohio's Attorney General confirmed that the accusations that Planned Parenthood "sold fetal tissue" were completely unfounded and untrue. These false claims have been made and disproved over and over again. Officials in eight other states (Washington, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri and South Dakota) have now cleared Planned Parenthood affiliates of all wrongdoing. In addition, seven states (Iowa, Delaware, Idaho, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Colorado) have declined to even investigate Planned Parenthood — finding nothing to substantiate claims of wrongdoing. These new accusations that Planned Parenthood is improperly disposing of fetal tissue are also flat-out false.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With approximately 700 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America media office: 212-261-4433
December 14, 2015