Ohio Gov. DeWine signs law requiring burial, cremation of aborted babies

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine takes his oath of office on a stack of nine bibles at his home in Cedarville on Jan. 14, 2019.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine takes his oath of office on a stack of nine bibles at his home in Cedarville on Jan. 14, 2019. | TWITTER/@GOVMIKEDEWINE

Gov. Mike DeWine has signed into law a measure requiring the cremation or burial of aborted babies’ remains, a move that sparked praise from pro-life groups and backlash from pro-abortion groups.

DeWine signed the Unborn Child Dignity Act into law Wednesday, just three weeks after the Ohio legislature passed the bill. Sponsored by state Sen. Joe Uecker, the Unborn Child Dignity Act requires “final disposition of fetal remains from a surgical abortion at an abortion facility (to) be by cremation or interment.”

Other provisions in the legislation require abortion facilities to “document in the pregnant woman’s medical record the final disposition determination made” and “maintain evidentiary documentation demonstrating the date and method of the disposition of fetal remains from surgical abortions performed or induced in the facility.” Anyone who fails to comply with these provisions “is guilty of failure to dispose of fetal remains humanely, a misdemeanor of the first degree.”

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The Unborn Child Dignity Act is designed to reinforce a provision in Ohio state law requiring that aborted babies' remains “shall be disposed of in a humane manner.” The legislation was spurred by a 2015 investigation conducted by DeWine, then the state’s attorney general, finding that abortion provider Planned Parenthood disposed of aborted babies’ body parts in landfills. The Unborn Child Dignity Act closely mirrors legislation passed in Indiana that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court last year.

“After years of hard work and dedication, the Unborn Child Dignity Act has finally been signed into law,” said Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life. “No longer will the tiny bodies of babies whose lives have been tragically taken through abortion be treated like trash. In Ohio, we respect life and we bury our dead. The abortion industry, who has for decades tried to convince women that the lives of their children don’t matter and should simply be thrown away, will now be unable to hide behind this blatant lie.”

“Ohio Right to Life is incredibly proud to see this vital piece of pro-life legislation signed into law,” he added. “Human life is precious and deserves to be both respected and protected. No child’s broken body should be thrown into the trash. The Unborn Child Dignity Act is a crucial step forward toward ending Planned Parenthood’s callous treatment of human life.”

Following the passage of the legislation, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio took to Twitter to declare that “this legislation is unconstitutional, medically unnecessary, and adds yet another barrier to abortion access in Ohio.” The pro-abortion group also noted that Senate Bill 260, which bans the use of telemedicine for chemical abortions, has passed the legislature and awaits DeWine’s signature.

The Unborn Child Dignity Act is one of several pro-life measures enacted in Ohio in recent years. The pro-life group Americans United for Life ranked Ohio as the 19th most pro-life state in the U.S. in its 2021 Life List, which was released last month.

In 2019, Ohio passed a heartbeat bill that bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, around six weeks gestation. In 2018, then-Gov. John Kasich signed into law a bill banning abortions of unborn babies with Down syndrome. Both measures faced court challenges.

The Ohio Senate passed additional pro-life legislation last year, including a bill requiring doctors to provide care for babies who survived botched abortions and a measure that would require abortionists to inform women seeking abortions about their ability to undergo an abortion reversal. Both measures have failed to become law because action has yet to be taken in the House of Representatives on either of them thus far.

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