With every investigating state attorney general’s office finding zero evidence to sustain it, the ‘baby parts for cash’ hoax has not worked out according to plan. But instead of simply clearing Planned Parenthood of the absurd charges levied by right wing fraudster David Daleiden in a deceptively-edited series of videos, last Friday Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine chose to move the goalposts by inventing a new issue: the supposedly “inhumane” disposal of aborted fetal tissues in landfills.
Tellingly, the statute at issue does not specify what constitutes a “humane” disposal in any kind of detail.
Action in the matter has been swift. Before DeWine could follow through on his plans to obtain injunctions against the three Planned Parenthood clinics he had singled out, yesterday a federal judge blocked any such legal action as an affront to due process and equal protection enjoyed by other healthcare providers.
At the same time, three Ohio lawmakers announced a new effort to require that abortion clinics bury or cremate remains.
The proposed legislation mirrors bills that have appeared elsewhere this year, such as Indiana, where legislation signed by vocal Planned Parenthood opponent Governor Mike Pence in April requires facilities to offer patients a chance to bury their fetuses and either incinerate or bury unwanted remains. Arkansas has also adopted a similar law, and Wisconsin Republicans are pushing one right alongside a ban on fetal tissue donations.
Indeed, this ‘humane disposal’ attack line seems suspiciously widespread, appearing far beyond Ohio. Right wing Missouri legislators appointed to a special committee that ‘investigated’ the baby parts-for-cash hoax also engaged in hysterical concern-trolling when Department of Health and Senior Services director Gail Vasterling testified that her agency doesn’t follow-up on the disposition of fetal remains.
“It doesn’t sound like there’s any accounting as to where the organs of these babies went,” said [Senator Bob] Onder.
“She can’t say as she sits here that’s not occurring in the State of Missouri,” said the committee’s chairman, Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia). “The closest thing she can come to is when we get pathology reports, that’s the last we see of where hearts and kidneys and lungs and legs go, and we throw them in a drawer and we don’t look at those reports.”
Schaefer called the handling of those pathology reports a loophole that could be exploited, and said a legislative solution could be necessary.
Of course, what all these politicians really mean by advocating closely-regulated ‘humane disposal’ is that fetuses should be treated exactly like already-born people who die. Forced-birth activists have long criticized ‘abortion mills’ for not burying dead fetuses in an actual graveyard, for example, with a coffin, a death certificate, a marker, flowers, and (one supposes) maybe even a 21-gun salute.
In a perfectly logical extension of the ‘personhood’ propaganda which has become so popular with abortion opponents, ‘pro-life’ campaigns of harassment and intimidation have thus been extended to the medical waste disposal companies which service the clinics as a backdoor way of shutting them down.
As Robin Marty explained in July,
Force a clinic to inter remains, and suddenly a building needs a plot it can access. Force it to cremate and they need to meet the regulations of a funeral home or other such site, or find a business willing to work with it and drive up their costs even more so than the current process of disposal. And of course, those outside businesses would be subject to pressure and harassment as well.
Just two weeks after releasing the first of his hoax videos, as he was interviewed by the Guardian while attending the Koch brothers’ ALEC conference in San Diego, Daleiden made this very point himself.
In response to a question from the Guardian, Daleiden said the current uproar – including proposed laws requiring death certificates for fetuses – could create “bottlenecks” for clinics and pressure them to close.
He said abortion clinics had an achilles heel – fetal tissue disposal – which legislators could exploit. “From a legislative perspective I think the most impactful [measure] could be disposal. Laws requiring that human fetuses receive death certificates – that creates a huge bottleneck for them. That makes it difficult for the clinics to work.”
Regardless of whether they were paid for specimens, clinics faced a challenge in disposing of remains because many waste disposal contractors refused to handle them, he said. “They’re running up against the limits of human nature.”
As if by coincidence, last week Americans United for Life introduced a package of model legislation that mandates “respectful” disposal of fetal tissues. “The Unborn Infants Dignity Act” (.PDF) would “ensure that miscarried, stillborn, or aborted infants receive proper burials or final disposition,” require the issuance of death certificates, and prohibit fetal tissue donations that have provided humanity with lifesaving medical breakthroughs such as the polio vaccine.
BU will stay on top of this story.