To win high offices in a purple state, Ohio Republicans make a big show of being more moderate than the rest of their party. Take Governor John Kasich’s objections to the populist proto-fascism of Donald Trump, or Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who has generally supported gun control measures such as the assault rifle ban.

But all that moderation disappears when the issue is abortion. Kasich has a long track record of chipping away at the fundamental right to choose, for example, while DeWine has been described as an “errand boy” for Ohio Right to Life. His office has submitted dozens of amicus briefs in federal litigation unrelated to Ohio, including Arizona’s 20-week abortion ban, in a clear effort to affect the laws beyond the limits of his own power. Reflecting the utter disregard for truth that is endemic to anti-abortion activism, DeWine also endorsed culture warrior Rick Santorum in 2012 with a claim about the abortion rates of fetuses diagnosed with Down Syndrome that PolitiFact ruled “mostly false.”

So when the so-called ‘Center for Medical Progress’ released a series of misleading videos edited to invent the appearance of a ‘baby parts for cash‘ scheme this summer, and DeWine quickly vowed to get to the bottom of the matter, reproductive freedom advocates were justifiably worried that he might try to lend credence to the fabrication.

During the last five months, however, state after state after state has cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing. It was therefore not a surprise when DeWine finally admitted today that his office had discovered no evidence that the organization was selling fetal tissues. Instead, DeWine now claims that Planned Parenthood affiliates in Ohio have failed to “humanely” dispose of aborted fetuses:

The investigation showed that the disposal methods documented by the Planned Parenthood affiliates violate Ohio Administrative Code 3701-47-05, adopted in 1975, which requires that a “fetus shall be disposed of in a humane manner.”

Specifically: All three Ohio Planned Parenthood affiliates have sent fetal remains to companies, which then disposed of the fetuses in landfills. During a press conference Friday afternoon, DeWine said the fetuses were steam cooked before disposal.

Additionally, the Planned Parenthood facility in Bedford Heights stated it uses only one company for disposal. However, that company stated to investigators it does not accept fetal remains for disposal as a corporate policy.

“Disposing of aborted fetuses from an abortion by sending them to a landfill is callous and completely inhumane,” said DeWine. “It is important the public be aware that these practices are taking place at these Ohio facilities.”

First, note that the charge is entirely subjective: what constitutes ‘humane’ disposal of an aborted fetus isn’t clearly spelled out in the statute. Second, reflecting the relatively minor nature of his assertions, DeWine has referred the matter to the Ohio Department of Health, which may end up fining the Planned Parenthood facilities, but will almost certainly hit the waste disposal companies even harder. That’s exactly what Texas did three years ago in a very similar situation that also involved “steam cooking” of tissues.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality ordered fines Wednesday of $22,980 and $17,430 for the Whole Woman’s Health clinics in Austin and McAllen. The clinics already have begun paying their fines.

Stericycle, an Illinois-based international medical waste disposal company used by both clinics, was fined $42,612. A portion of all three fines was deferred.

[…] Texas regulations require the disposal of fetuses in specific ways. Stericycle’s first step of “steam disinfection” was allowed, but regulations require the waste to be buried, not dumped in a municipal solid waste landfill.

Tellingly, DeWine failed to name any of the waste disposal companies involved, only the clinic locations which contracted with them. Rather than admit the ‘baby parts for cash’ hoax is, well, a hoax, DeWine has thrown a whole new bone to the forced-birth activists he counts on at election time. At the end of the day, they don’t really care what happens to the fetal tissues after an abortion; they just oppose the procedure, period, and they’ll grasp onto whatever straws they see in order to demonize the providers and continue their deranged witch hunt. The professional harassers sidewalk counselors of Ohio will adopt the new talking point and use it right alongside the old one without missing a beat.