I first wrote about John Crawfordon August 7, after learning of his shooting death in an Walmart in Beaver Creek, Ohio. While much of the nation’s attention has been centered around the horrible shooting death of Michael Brown, and the ongoing protests in Ferguson, John Crawford’s death also requires people of conscience everywhere to demand justice on behalf this innocent…
When Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine discovered that Planned Parenthood was, in fact, not responsible for selling fetal tissue in the state — the smear at the heart of a right-wing campaign seeking to discredit the national women’s health organization — he was the last to admit it.
Downplaying the finding that cleared Planned Parenthood of
wrongdoing, DeWine instead quickly blamed local clinics for something
entirely unrelated, hoping to distract Ohioans with an emotional appeal
about the horror of abortion.
“In the course of our investigation, we learned that aborted fetuses
are ultimately disposed of in landfill sites — apparently intermingled
with other common residential and commercial trash,” DeWine wrote in a December letter to state Department of Health Director Richard Hodges.
“We found that these fetuses were steam cooked,” he said at a
following press conference, referring to a common process used to kill
bacteria before disposing biological remains.
His demand for a disposing fetal remains in a more “humane manner” —
which has yet to be defined — ultimately inspired a pair of recently
introduced Ohio bills demanding that women, after having an abortion,
must inform the clinic if they want the aborted remains to be cremated
or buried. The abortion clinic is financially responsible for completing
But Dewine’s tactical pivot isn’t his brainchild. It’s been carefully
crafted by the country’s most powerful anti-abortion organization, Americans United for Life (AUL), which writes draft bills for GOP lawmakers. And it’s quickly become the latest trend in anti-abortion legislation.
“Fetal burial” bills like Ohio’s have begun to make a significant
appearance in the legislative sessions of conservative-led states –
states that have already passed nearly every restriction possible to
restrict a woman’s access to an abortion. Kellie Copeland, director of
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said this is a technique to keep the
anti-abortion debate front and center, regardless of the need for this
“The purpose is really just to keep the anti-abortion narrative going
at state capitols, and talk about how abortion providers are not doing
the right things in some people’s eyes,” Copeland said. “And let’s be
clear. Burial and cremation laws are only intended to shame women for
Gary Daniels, chief lobbyist for ACLU Ohio, agrees. “It’s just a way
to keep abortion issues afloat and in the public eye,” he said.
Many states are using eerily similar language to drive fetal burials
bill through their legislatures. The identical legislation is no
coincidence: The text is copied and pasted directly from AUL’s website.
AUL functions as a legislation mill for anti-abortion lawmakers,
enabling them to “easily introduce bills without needing to research and
write the bills themselves,” according to the organization’s website.
States like Ohio and Indiana – which approved a controversial anti-abortion law
last month that includes a fetal burial provision – are slightly less
overt in their duplication of AUL’s draft bill, but are clearly inspired
by its model.
AUL’s bill is meant to applied to “every instance of fetal death,
irrespective of the duration of pregnancy.” In some cases, this would
mean a woman who took an abortion pill a couple months into a pregnancy
would be asked if she wanted a quarter-sized blood clot to be formally
buried. She would then get a death certificate.
Regardless of the reason behind an abortion – whether it’s a
pregnancy that resulted from rape, or it’s an unwanted pregnancy at the
wrong time in a woman’s life – this could be a traumatic ask.
“None of this has to do with public health. It’s harassment,” Copeland said.
According to Daniel, these bills all contain a particularly dangerous
loophole that legislators may not be aware of. If a state is going to
require a fetal death certificate for every abortion, the name of the
woman who’s had the abortion could be made public record.
“It’s become alarming to people that, through the Ohio public records
law, you would be able to easily request a list of who’s getting an
abortion in the state,” said Daniel, who is testifying Wednesday against
the handful of new anti-abortion bills at the state capitol.
“I’m not sure if it’s the lawmakers’ intention or if it’s an
oversight – but that information will most certainly become public if
this bill passes as-is.”
Enacting burial requirements is just the latest state-led effort to
humanize fetuses. From misleading overly-graphic imagery, to demands of a
“Vietnam Wall type” memorial
for aborted fetuses, anti-abortion lawmakers have worked hard to embed
the illusion of a tiny human baby being “ripped limb from limb” in
voters’ minds. Meanwhile, these same lawmakers have generally ignored
any bills supporting the health of actual babies facing abhorrent infant mortality rates.
None of the lawmakers behind these bills demanding clinic-led burial
or cremation programs are explaining why this law shouldn’t apply to all
fetuses – including fetal tissue that results from natural pregnancy
losses – which comes across as openly contradictory to Daniel and other
pro-choice advocates. In Ohio, and most states, state hospitals use the
exact same process to dispose of miscarriages and still births as
Planned Parenthood does to dispose of fetal remains.
“They’ve been avoiding this answer,” said Daniel. “And the public isn’t letting them off the hook.”
As Brian noted earlier this month, Faith 2 Action’s Janet Porter is currently leading an effort to pressure Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine “to file a Motion to Rehear Obergefell v. Hodges” with the Supreme Court, so that the recently decided gay marriage case can be reargued, this time without the participation of Justices Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whom Porter insists must recuse themselves.
The window for filing such a motion closes tomorrow and having received no support from DeWine, Porter is now getting increasingly desperate and has expanded her call to the attorneys general of Michigan, Tennessee, and Kentucky, sending out an email today warning that they will be responsible when “Christianity is criminalized” and Christians are “carted off to jail” because they failed to get the gay marriage decision overturned: