COLUMBUS (13abc, Action News) - Planned Parenthood of Ohio did not make money from the sale of aborted fetuses, state attorney general Mike DeWine concluded Friday in an investigation that instead criticized the agency for disposing of fetal remains in landfills.
Planned Parenthood said DeWine was making another politically motivated attack on abortion and called the report "inflammatory and false." The agency didn't deny that remains went to landfills, but said it followed Ohio law and uses the same practices as hospitals and ambulatory surgical facilities, which generally contract with outside companies to dispose of all medical waste.
"We handle all fetal tissue respectfully," said Stephanie Kight, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio. "That's our commitment to our patients."
DeWine said the disposal practice is callous and violates state rules requiring that fetuses be disposed of in a humane manner.
"It is important the public be aware that these practices are taking place at these Ohio facilities," DeWine said. He referred his investigation to the Ohio Department of Health, which licenses abortion facilities in Ohio.
DeWine announced an investigation in mid-July after anti-abortion activists began releasing undercover videos they said showed Planned Parenthood personnel negotiating the sale of fetal organs.
Planned Parenthood said some fetal tissue is donated for medical research, but such donations are illegal in Ohio. A Planned Parenthood state leader has said no donation program exists here.
During DeWine's investigation of the tissue sale issue, he said his office found that Marietta, Ohio-based Accu Medical Waste Service, Inc., a waste disposal company used by Planned Parenthood affiliates in Cincinnati and Columbus, sent the remains to a Kentucky landfill.
An Accu Medical official told DeWine's office that his company uses a standard treatment for biological waste called "autoclave" involving a high-pressure steam treatment to kill infectious material.
The investigation determined that fetal remains taken by Lake Forest, Illinois-based Stericycle from a third Planned Parenthood affiliate, in Bedford Heights in suburban Cleveland, ended up in a different landfill. DeWine's office didn't identify that landfill.
Kight referred questions on disposal to the companies. A man who answered the phone at Accu Medical Waste Service who wouldn't give his name said all employees had been instructed not to comment.
Stericycle said in a statement it has a long-standing policy against accepting fetal remains. DeWine's office said Planned Parenthood uses the company to dispose of its biological waste including aborted fetuses.
Kight said the agency believes its Stericycle contract allows for the removal of fetal tissue.
DeWine said he plans to seek an injunction next week to prevent Planned Parenthood from disposing of fetal remains in landfills.
Ohio Right to Life, which opposes abortion, called on lawmakers to pass a bill ensuring the aborted remains of babies are treated humanely.
"We are disturbed and heartsick over the Attorney General's findings," said Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life.
Republican lawmakers in the GOP-controlled Ohio House announced a Monday news conference to announce legislation.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich also called the findings disturbing and ordered the Health Department to work with DeWine to take appropriate legal action.