U.S. District Judge Edmund Sargus Jr. decided to block Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, supported by Gov. JohnKasich, from taking legal action over Planned Parenthood disposal of fetal tissue.  Judge Sargus Jr.  issued a 28-day temporary restraining order against any legal action stemming from the AG’s investigation into the group’s abortion policies.  The court-issued injunction, effective through Jan. 11, followed the introduction of legislation to require that fetal tissue from abortion clinics be buried or cremated.

According to court documents, Judge Sargus Jr. said Planned Parenthood has “shown a likelihood of success on the merits” and that the organization will “suffer irreparable harm if an injunction is not issued.” Judge Sargus Jr. continues  that blocking the fetal tissue disposal would violate Planned Parenthood’s due process rights because the state failed “to provide adequate notice of the conduct it prohibits.”  and “DeWine has singled out Plaintiffs from all medical providers who dispose of fetal tissue based on animus towards Plaintiff’s provision of abortion, and towards Planned Parenthood.”

Planned Parenthood announced this decision as a victory,”This ruling shows that baseless, inflammatory political attacks against Planned Parenthood have once again fallen apart. The reality is that we handle medical tissue just like other health care providers do, and we always have.”explained  Stephanie Kight, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio.

“Politicians in Ohio have proven they will stop at nothing to ban abortion in all cases in our state, but today, we won an important victory for women and those who care about them. Planned Parenthood will continue in our mission to provide health care to our communities – no matter what.”

Mr. DeWine, however, downplayed the decision, saying it “did not address the central issue of whether the disposal practices of Planned Parenthood were humane.” “Our investigation has already yielded positive change in that the Ohio General Assembly is proceeding to further clarify humane disposal procedures, and that Planned Parenthood has contracted with a new vendor,” he added. “Planned Parenthood should ensure that the disposal methods used by the new vendor are indeed humane.”

The Democratic Women’s Caucus Kathy DiCristofaro, chair of the organization, supported the decision and called the allegations made by Mr. DeWine “incendiary and unfounded attacks.”  “In the past five years, Ohio Republicans have waged one attack after another against Planned Parenthood and the important work it does serving Ohio families,”  said in a statement. “The latest investigation against Planned Parenthood Ohio has turned up nothing except more grandstanding and inflammatory accusations. Such baseless actions continue to fuel hateful and dangerous rhetoric against our most trusted community health partners.”

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said the legislation is designed to “shame women seeking abortion.”  “It is just the latest in the constantly changing, medically unnecessary legal hoops that abortion providers and their patients must jump through,” she said in a statement. “This proposed law is also intended to shame women seeking abortion, but the people that should be ashamed of themselves are John Kasich, Mike DeWine, and their cronies behind this bill in the Statehouse.”

Sen. President Keith Faber (R-Celina) and Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) that  legislation on disposal of fetal tissue will be a priority in 2016.  “Our office will work with the General Assembly to help them craft language from the constitutional point of view and the legal point of view. We will very much be involved in that,” he said, before adding that the General Assembly “is really the proper forum, people can come in and testify. They’re going to look at the bigger question, not just what Planned Parenthood is doing but what is being done in hospitals.”

After DeWine attacked Planned Parenthood on disposal of fetal tissue, Planned Parenthood followed with the lawsuit, in which it denies any wrongdoing and alleges the proposed legal action would violate the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection clause. The group also says the state’s rules on the disposal of fetal tissue are “unconstitutionally vague.”

Mr. DeWine singled out Planned Parenthood from other medical providers for “disparate treatment,” the lawsuit reads. “He has not said he would take action against all medical providers who dispose of fetal tissue, which includes obstetricians and gynecologists, as well as hospitals.”

Ohio Right to Life, Mike Gonidakis, president supports Mr. DeWine and asked him to expand his investigation to include each of the nine facilities that provide abortion services in Ohio.

Gonidakis in a statement stated, “This is both a matter of public health and moral character,” “The pre-born bodies of Ohio’s children do not belong in our trash, and landfills should not function as their mass unmarked graves. These children are individuals with their own intrinsic dignity. Along with salvaging their remains, Ohio Right to Life is intent on salvaging their dignity along with the truth.”

Another hearing on the matter is scheduled for Jan. 4.