Judge Delays Ohio Law Mandating Burial Of Fetal Tissue After Abortions

The Preterm building in Cleveland is the busiest abortion clinic in Ohio. [Tony Dejak / AP file photo][Tony Dejak / Associated Press]

A judge has temporarily blocked enforcement of an Ohio law requiring fetal remains from surgical abortions to be cremated or buried.

Hamilton County Judge Alison Hatheway's Monday decision came the day before the law was supposed to come into effect. It marked a victory for clinics, Planned Parenthood and Preterm Cleveland, whose lawsuit argues a lack of rules makes complying impossible, effectively banning abortions.

Attorneys for the ACLU of Ohio said it was impossible for clinics to follow rules that hadn’t yet been defined.

Hatheway agreed and went further, barring state enforcement until 30 days after rules are approved.

The disputed law aims to replace a previous law that required fetal remains to be disposed of “in a humane manner,” but without defining “humane.”

Hatheway upheld the law on March 11 and denied the request from abortion clinics for a temporary restraining order. The judge said at the time she was "not convinced that there is immediate and irreparable harm at this time, because the legislation is not due to take effect until April 6."

Gov. Mike DeWine signed the fetal remains disposal bill into law in December.

In 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a similar fetal disposal law in Indiana.

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