Columbus -- State officials joined Ohio Right to Life representatives and more than 100 others July 28 in a Statehouse rally calling for action after videos were released purporting to show Planned Parenthood's willingness to sell body parts from aborted fetuses.
The groups want a federal investigation to determine whether Planned Parenthood broke the law. They also want to block state and federal funding for Planned Parenthood's activities.
"This is the time for us to get past as a country and as a state … the divisive politics of abortion and to recognize that what's going on here goes so far beyond these other issues that it warrants rethinking," said Republican state Auditor Dawve Yost, who was among the elected officials offering comments. "It warrants all of us coming together to end this practice. It is not too much to think that if this is unchecked, if this is allowed to stand, that the day will come that the horror stories of science fiction, of black markets for body parts, could become a reality … "
He added, "I think this goes beyond the debate that we have had since Roe vs. Wade and that all people of good conscience should be able to stand up and to say that this is something that as a country we do not want to see go forward, regardless of whether we adhere to a view that is pro-life … or we are pro-choice or agnostic on the question."
The Center for Medical Progress, a group that opposes abortion, has released a series of undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood representatives discussing the sale of body parts from aborted fetuses.
"I didn't want to see what I had heard was on the video, the casual way that the Planned Parenthood executive discusses harvesting organs from unborn babies," said Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted. "It was one of the most awful I had ever seen. Thankfully, Ohio prohibits this practice, but it's allowed in other states, and I, like many others, have called for the practice outlined in this video to be investigated and where we can do it stopped."
Women's health advocates say the videos have been "heavily edited" and "do not reflect Planned Parenthood's long commitment to providing high quality health care to millions of Americans."
ProgressOhio Executive Director Sandy Theis added, "Fetal tissue research has led to medical miracles. Groundbreaking fetal research created vaccines against measles, rubella and other diseases, and human fetal kidney cells were used to develop the polio vaccine that resulted in the 1954 Nobel Prize in Medicine. Ohio leaders should be focusing on ways to enhance medical research, not undermine it."
Planned Parenthood of Ohio also has noted that it does not participate in any fetal tissue donation programs.
"The Ohio Department of Health inspects abortion clinics in Ohio annually as part of their license renewal process," Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said in a released statement. "During those inspections, they ensure that all biological tissue is appropriately and legally handled."
But Ohio Right to Life said 94 percent of Planned Parenthood's pregnancy-related services were abortions, and the number of mammograms and other health-related screenings offered by the group have dropped.
"… Planned Parenthood's real agenda is abortion," said Stephanie Ranade Krider, executive director of Ohio Right to Life. "An organization that profits from killing a woman's child is no friend to women. … Now the American public is beginning to wake up to the reality of who Planned Parenthood is."
The July 28 rally included the announcement of new legislation to block funding of Planned Parenthood in the state. The bill would block funds from groups that perform or promote elective abortions, or those that contract or are otherwise affiliated with those locations.
The legislation is co-sponsored by Rep. Bill Patmon, a Cleveland Democrat who has sided with majority Republicans on abortion-related law changes.
"… Five thousand, four hundred and ninety-nine abortions are in Cuyahoga County, which I happen to represent, and 63 percent are black women," he said. "… I would say that that's just kind of unheard of. You hear a lot of demonstrations across the country now about black lives matter, well they skipped one place. They should be in front of Planned Parenthood."
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.