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COLUMBUS, Ohio, January 11, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Ohio's attorney general has backed off pursuing Planned Parenthood over its treating the remains of children aborted at its Ohio facilities like common waste.

Last month, Mike DeWine criticized the Ohio branch of the abortion giant for disposing of aborted children's remains in landfills, the children's bodies “apparently intermingled with other common residential and commercial trash,” in seeming violation of Ohio law.

Planned Parenthood denied the charge and claimed that DeWine was on a witch hunt because his investigation into the Ohio abortion business found no proof it was trafficking in human remains, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

A pre-emptive suit against the state of Ohio, meant to block DeWine, has been set aside, and DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) likewise dropped threat of legal action against Planned Parenthood, leaving the issue to state legislators to deal with.

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Ohio Administrative Code 3701-47-05 requires that a “fetus shall be disposed of in a humane manner.”

DeWine had initiated the investigation of Planned Parenthood practices last summer, the same time as officials in several other states did, after news surfaced of national Planned Parenthood officials negotiating the sale of human remains from children aborted at their facilities. In addition to selling fetal remains, Planned Parenthood has been shown in a series of undercover videos to be targeting particular abortion procedures to maximize effectiveness of organ harvesting and also to be using the controversial partial-birth abortion method, both in violation of the law.

While DeWine's office found no evidence of Planned Parenthood selling human tissue in Ohio, it did learn that Accu Medical Waste Service Inc., a waste disposal company contracted by the Cincinnati and Columbus Planned Parenthoods, was disposing of the children's remains in a Kentucky landfill. Accu Medical also uses a process on the baby remains called “autoclave,” a high-pressure steam treatment to kill infectious material, which DeWine said left the children's bodies “steam-cooked.”

The Planned Parenthood in suburban Cleveland contracted for disposal of its aborted human remains with another vendor, Stericycle.

DeWine told Ohio's Department of Health director in a December 11 letter he believed “that disposing of the remains from an abortion by sending them to a landfill violates this rule” and that he would be referring more information on the case to the ODH office for further action.

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

Ohio Gov. John Kasich applauded the attorney general's investigation, calling DeWine's findings “disturbing,” and commissioned DeWine and the state's health department with taking appropriate legal action against Planned Parenthood.

A specific definition of “humane” is absent in the law on disposing of fetal remains as currently written, rendering enforcement problematic, as evidenced in the Dispatch report, which stated based on the previous fives years of public records that no Planned Parenthood or other abortion facility in the state has been cited by the ODH for improper disposal of aborted children.

Still, all three Planned Parenthood facilities say they have changed the vendors they use for disposing of fetal remains to businesses that use incineration instead, and a spokesman for DeWine said he accepts the statements Planned Parenthood officials gave in court that their locations no longer do business with a vendor that autoclaves.

Planned Parenthood spokesperson Jocelyn Smallwood denied any wrongdoing by the abortion giant and wrote off the investigation of its practices as political.

“It's another brick in the wall by people trying to build between women and health care,” she said.

A number of Ohio Republican lawmakers are proposing legislation that will help classify “humane” disposal of aborted children's remains, such as requiring abortionists to cremate or bury them, or require the child's mother to designate the disposal method.

DeWine spokesperson Dan Tierney said DeWine is “very pleased that the General Assembly intends to establish clear standards which ensure that the gruesome practice does not continue in Ohio” and that DeWine is willing to wait and see what the legislators do.

DeWine's investigation of Planned Parenthood was a good thing, a local pro-life advocate said, yielding a positive result in the battle for the right to life.

“Attorney General Mike DeWine needs to be commended for his efforts to bring to the public's attention the fact that abortion facilities are disposing of unborn children's remains in an inhumane way,” Cleveland Right to Life president Molly Smith told LifeSiteNews. “His actions have highlighted the need for tougher legislation and regulations in this regard.” 

“DeWine's principled action resulting in his department's findings of children being disposed of in landfills has shone a spotlight on the process and instigated meaningful debate that will hopefully result in the end of all abortions in Ohio as citizens are forced to face the reality of this deadly business,” Smith said.