(CN) - A federal judge blocked Ohio authorities from throwing the book at Planned Parenthood based on unfounded claims of dumping fetal parts in landfills.
U.S. District Judge Edmund Sargus awarded the temporary restraining order Monday in a lawsuit Planned Parenthood e-filed on Dec. 11, just days after Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced the state's findings in a "baby parts" investigation spurred by a conservative anti-abortion group that released a series of undercover videos purportedly showing Planned Parenthood employees bartering over the price of fetal tissue.
Though Ohio joined a bevy of other states in finding no evidence behind the allegations of tissue sales, DeWine said Friday that Planned Parenthood allowed its contractors to dispose of aborted fetuses in landfills.
"Disposing of aborted fetuses from an abortion by sending them to a landfill is callous and completely inhumane," Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said at a press conference.
With the attorney general threatening to take Planned Parenthood to court on Monday, the organization fired back with its own federal complaint seeking injunctive relief.
Planned Parenthood claims that it contracted with an approved medical-waste company, which is obligated to dispose of the waste in accordance with the law.
The Ohio Department of Health never informed Planned Parenthood of any health violation, though the department would normally provide a notice of alleged noncompliance and allow a violator to submit a plan of correction, according to the complaint.
"But now for the first time, defendant has arbitrarily singled out plaintiffs and claims that their actions in following infectious waste rules nonetheless violates the fetal tissue rule," the group claims (emphasis in original). "This sudden and targeted treatment is no doubt motivated by his animus to a woman's right to safe and legal abortion and to Planned Parenthood in particular."
Planned Parenthood accuses Richard Hodges, the director of Ohio's health department, of violating its equal-protection rights. The group also wants Ohio's fetal tissue requirement ruled void for vagueness.
Stephanie Kight, president of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, emphasized in a statement that Ohio is one of nine states to clear Planned Parenthood of all wrongdoing as alleged in videos by the so-called Center for Medical Progress.
Another seven states have declined to investigate the organization, finding nothing to substantiate the claims to begin with.
"These new accusations that Planned Parenthood is improperly disposing of fetal tissue are also flat-out false," Kight said in a statement.
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