An editorial in the Akron Beacon Journal criticized recent maneuvers made by Ohio's attorney general Mike DeWine who has “join[ed] the bashing” of Planned Parenthood following release of deceptively-edited videos produced by the anti-choice Center for Medical Progress.
A December 16 editorial by the Akron Beacon Journal discussed the attorney general's investigation into Planned Parenthood based on the “heavily edited and thus misleading” videos which alleged the organization was illegally selling fetal tissue. The videos that prompted the investigation have been thoroughly debunked despite being continuously touted by right-wing media. As the editorial notes, the attorney general's investigation “found no indication that fetal tissue is sold by the Planned Parenthood organizations in Ohio” which "mirrored results elsewhere." However, the attorney general has recently claimed Planned Parenthood was violating state law in its disposal of fetal tissue, which the editorial explained, “fits the pattern” of Republican lawmakers “seizing [the] opportunity” to take “a range of steps to curb abortion rights in the state.” The editorial said “nothing indicates that Planned Parenthood has been out of compliance in the past, let alone some dark, rogue operation”:
Mike DeWine launched his investigation last summer to determine whether Planned Parenthood in Ohio sold fetal tissue for profit. That was the accusation Planned Parenthood faced in the wake of videos put together by anti-abortion activists. The videos proved heavily edited and thus misleading, to say the least. The state attorney general pushed ahead, anyway, as did officials in other states, encouraged by Republican presidential candidates.
What did DeWine discover? On Friday, he told the director of the state Department of Health, that “a thorough investigation ... found no indication that fetal tissue is sold by the Planned Parenthood organizations in Ohio.” That outcome mirrored results elsewhere.
The attorney general didn't stop there. He argued that his investigation turned up information showing that Planned Parenthood violated state law in disposing of fetal tissue. State regulations require disposal in a “humane manner.” The attorney general described Planned Parenthood contracting with a waste firm, the “steam cooking” of tissue and sending it to “a landfill ... in Kentucky,” suggesting the tissue received treatment in line with trash left at the curb.
No surprise that many lawmakers in the Republican majorities at the Statehouse voiced their outrage. They already have approved denying funding to Planned Parenthood, not to mention taken a range of steps to curb abortion rights in the state. They now have proposed legislation that would define “humane” as either burial or cremation. One bill would require the woman to select one of the two as part of receiving an abortion.
The attorney general plainly is sincere and passionate about his opposition to abortion, as are many Ohioans. At the same time, it is hard to overlook the political theater at work, before the cameras, springing his revelation.
If Planned Parenthood weren't portrayed as such a villain by Republicans in the legislature, this episode might not appear so calculated. As things are, it fits the pattern, the attorney general seizing his opportunity to join the bashing, just as he eagerly enters controversial lawsuits across the country to trumpet his views.
And yet, Planned Parenthood makes a valuable contribution in communities, providing access to health care for many who are disadvantaged, earning a reputation for trust and quality. Its family planning services help to curb abortions. Still, when a woman chooses to end a pregnancy, difficult as that decision is, Planned Parenthood is there to see that it is done safely, without shaming and demonizing.