This article was originally posted on the Society of St. Sebastian, to read it, click here.
On December 30th, 2020, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed S.B. 27, Ohio’s Unborn Child Dignity Act, into law.[i] The law, years in the making, promotes the dignity of the unborn through proper burial by requiring the Ohio Department of Health to establish rules for the proper disposal of products of conception and define “humane disposal” as earthly burial or cremation.[ii] First conceived as a response to the shocking revelation that Planned Parenthood had engaged in trafficking fetal body parts in states such as California, Ohio's Unborn Child Dignity Act is a vital pro-life protection that emphasizes the humanity of the unborn and impacts the abortion industry's bottom line.
To fully understand the importance of fetal remains legislation like S.B. 27, it is imperative to first detail how the law came about. Ohio Right to Life initially prioritized the Unborn Child Dignity Act in the aftermath of the viral undercover videos where top officials at Planned Parenthood were caught discussing the trade of aborted baby body parts. That undercover footage, obtained by the Center for Medical Progress, shocked the world into taking a second look into Planned Parenthood's strangely guarded business model. In uncovering their deeply unethical treatment of fetal remains, the footage had struck a nerve. If Planned Parenthood was trafficking fetal body parts in other parts of the country, they might have been running the same racket in Ohio.
This revelation prompted DeWine, then Ohio’s Attorney General, to spearhead an investigation to discover whether Planned Parenthood facilities in Ohio were up to similar tricks. Although evidence of fetal body part trafficking was not uncovered during the investigation, something else was. The remains of abortion victims from Planned Parenthood locations in Ohio were being dumped in landfills, including one in Kentucky.[iii]
At the time of the investigation, Ohio law stipulated that fetal remains be disposed of in a "humane" manner but failed to define “humane.” This loophole left the state of Ohio with no course for further legal action against Planned Parenthood. Clearly, the next logical step was legislative action. By strengthening the definition of “humane” in Ohio’s legal code, Planned Parenthood would no longer be able to dump the bodies of their victims into the trash. Out of that desire to hold Planned Parenthood accountable, Ohio’s Unborn Child Dignity Act was born.
Legislation such as the Unborn Child Dignity Act is critical for the pro-life movement in several key ways. Firstly and perhaps most obviously, Planned Parenthood cannot sell fetal body parts if they are required to be buried or cremated. Although no concrete evidence has been found of fetal trafficking in Ohio, laws like the Unborn Child Dignity Act make it impossible for Planned Parenthood or their abortion allies to traffic the bodies of the children in the future. This, in turn, allows the unborn to be afforded the basic human decency of a proper burial and denies the abortion industry the opportunity to sell unborn broken bodies to labs for grisly scientific experimentation.
Secondly, fetal remains legislation improves informed consent and allows abortion-minded women a moment to pause and reflect on the humanity of the child whose life rests in their hands. This, in turn, gives women an additional opportunity to spare themselves and their unborn children from the pain of abortion. Ultimately, this will lead to more mothers choosing life.
Furthermore, even those women who do decide to go forward with an abortion are given a future opportunity to heal and come to grips with this deeply tragic loss. In fact, the most powerful piece of testimony given in support of S.B. 27 proved to be that of a post-abortive mother who struggled for years to find closure from her abortion without knowing her child’s final resting place. Had legislation like the Unborn Child Dignity Act already been enacted at the time of her abortion, she would have been spared from years of grief and possibly even the abortion itself.
After the Unborn Child Dignity Act was signed into law in late 2020, Planned Parenthood sued in an attempt to block the law from going into effect.[iv] Now-Governor Mike DeWine, however, issued an executive order regarding the emergency adoption of rules by the Ohio Department of Health for S.B. 27, allowing the law to be implemented.[v] Planned Parenthood’s staunch opposition not only to the law itself but to its implementation underscores its importance. Laws that require the proper disposal of fetal remains impact Planned Parenthood's bottom line and, in turn, allow us to save more innocent lives.
Still, despite the benefits outlined above, legislation like the Unborn Child Dignity Act is not without its share of controversy. Pro-life opponents of the law say that it does too little too late: that once a child's life has been taken, no amount of recourse will rectify that injustice. It is important here to note that if it were possible by the legislative means, we currently have at our disposal, we would have already stopped Planned Parenthood from committing abortions. Tragically, we cannot stop Planned Parenthood's murder machine yet, but we are able to make them confront the depravity of their process and purpose.
The abortion industry's endemically calloused treatment of human life perpetuates the lie that an unborn child is nothing more than a morally unimportant clump of cells that can be tossed into the trash without any remorse or repercussions. We may not yet be able to save every tiny child from the violence of abortion, but we will most definitely not let Planned Parenthood throw their broken bodies into the trash.
The need for legislation like the Unborn Child Dignity Act cannot be underestimated. Burial is a part of the human experience. When we bury our dead, we are allowed to acknowledge and respect the loss of each irreplaceable human life. There is great value in mourning, and every child lost to abortion deserves to be mourned. In implementing legislation that requires the proper burial for fetal remains, we create a space to grieve. The Unborn Child Dignity Act gives us the chance to recognize not only the humanity of the unborn but also of ourselves.
[ii] See S.B. 27 Legislation Text
Director of Communications
Ohio Right to Life