COLUMBUS, Ohio, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- According to the state of Ohio's top law enforcement officer, aborted fetuses from Planned Parenthood affiliates in his state are ultimately ending up in landfills -- a finding quickly refuted by the birth control organization and almost certain to stir the pot further in the ongoing abortion controversy.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine revealed the findings of his investigation Friday, which was intended to determine whether Planned Parenthood affiliates were selling fetal body parts, as has been claimed by anti-abortion activists.
In a news release and a press conference Friday, DeWine said his Charitable Law Section investigation did not find any indications that state affiliates were selling body parts or tissue, but he did claim investigators found evidence that those parts were ending up in common trash landfills.
"Disposing of aborted fetuses from an abortion by sending them to a landfill is callous and completely inhumane," DeWine said in the news release. "It is important the public be aware that these practices are taking place at these Ohio facilities."
The facilities are located in Columbus, Cincinnati and Bedford Heights, near Cleveland.
The four-month investigation concluded that fetal disposal in landfills violates a 40-year-old administrative code that mandates they be discarded in a "humane manner." DeWine said three Ohio Planned Parenthood affiliates sent the aborted fetuses to a third party, which then disposed of them in landfills across the border in Kentucky.
Planned Parenthood, which has repeatedly denied selling fetal tissue, quickly decried what it called "inflammatory and baseless accusations."
"As we have always maintained, and as the Attorney General has now confirmed, the original accusations that Planned Parenthood 'sold fetal tissue' were completely unfounded and untrue," Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio CEO Stephanie Kight said. "These new allegations by the Attorney General that we are improperly disposing of fetal tissue are flat-out false."
"Planned Parenthood handles medical tissue like any other quality health care provider," she continued. "Our agreements with vendors all require them to follow state law, and dispose of tissue accordingly. If they are not, then I will take swift action."
In her response, Kight cited that eight states have already cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing and seven others declined to investigate the organization after "finding nothing to substantiate claims of wrongdoing."
DeWine, a U.S. senator between 1995 and 2007, referred his investigative findings to the Ohio Department of Health for further action.
"We learned that aborted fetuses are ultimately disposed of in landfill sites -- apparently intermingled with other common residential and commercial trash," DeWine wrote in a letter to Ohio Department of Health Director Richard Hodges. "Because [state code] provides that the director 'shall apply to the court of common pleas for temporary or permanent injunctions restraining a violation of the rules,' my office will be forwarding you additional information."
The news is the latest development in a months-long controversy involving Planned Parenthood. Earlier this year, anti-abortion activists released a series of "undercover" videos taken at affiliate clinics that purported to surreptitiously capture Planned Parenthood personnel discussing the sale of fetal tissue.
In October, agency president Cecile Richards announced Planned Parenthood would stop accepting "reimbursement" for fetal tissue donations -- an activity she described as being a very small part of what the family planning group does.
Richards said although there was nothing wrong with Planned Parenthood accepting the "reimbursement," she decided to end the practice to deprive abortion opponents of using it against her organization.
"The real goal of these extremists has nothing to do with our fetal tissue donation compliance process but is instead to ban abortion in the U.S. and block women from getting any health care from Planned Parenthood," she said on Oct. 13. "We are taking their smokescreen away."
The growing controversy has spurred some federal lawmakers to move to strip the organization of its federal money, which is a critical financial source for its operation.
In her response, Kight said Friday's accusations are part of a conservative agenda against women's rights by the administration of Gov. John Kasich, a man running for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
"This is an administration that has done everything possible to eliminate access to abortion in Ohio -- secretly writing laws, working to close health centers, and even appointing the head of Ohio Right to Life to the state medical board," she said. "We are seriously concerned that this report is not the result of meaningful investigation, but instead yet another attack on women's access to health care in the state of Ohio intended to end our ability to continue to provide safe, legal abortion."