A federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked Ohio officials from taking legal action against Planned Parenthood to enforce fetal tissue disposal rules, and Republican state lawmakers proposed new regulations for such disposal.
The actions at the Ohio Statehouse and Columbus federal court comes after state Attorney General Mike DeWine's investigation into Planned Parenthood facilities.
DeWine had planned to file an injunction in state court to prevent Planned Parenthood from disposing of fetal remains as its affiliates have done. But a federal lawsuit filed Sunday by Planned Parenthood complicated his plan.
An Ohio health department spokeswoman says the agency doesn't comment on pending litigation.
Judge Edmund Sargus Jr. issued a temporary restraining order in the case on Monday, effectively blocking any state legal action until Jan. 11. He set a Jan. 4 hearing in the dispute.
DeWine dismissed the proceedings on the order as largely procedural. Planned Parenthood officials praised the ruling.
Meanwhile, Republican state lawmakers proposed legislation on Monday to require Ohio hospitals, abortion clinics and other providers to dispose of fetal remains by burial or cremation. The bill sponsors said they are trying to provide clarity as to the meaning of "humane" disposal.
The regulation of medical waste is determined on a state-by-state basis, according to the American Hospital Association.
State Rep. Barbara Sears, a Republican from suburban Toledo, said the bill she's co-sponsoring is not restricting a woman's choice to get an abortion. "What we're doing is saying there needs to be a respectful way once that's occurred," Sears told reporters.
Under a separate House proposal, which had been in the works before DeWine's report, women who get abortions would be asked to decide in writing whether their fetuses' remains should be buried or cremated. Should the woman not answer, the clinic would be responsible for the choice and document any decision.
A similar bill was introduced Monday in the state Senate.
The head of the abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio said the bills were intended to "shame women" who get abortions.
"It is just the latest in the constantly changing, medically unnecessary legal hoops that abortion providers and their patients must jump through," Kellie Copeland, the group's executive director, said in a statement.
House Republicans said their proposals would be formally introduced in the coming weeks. The GOP-controlled state legislature is on break for the holidays and expected to return in January.
The Associated Press