Abortion Rights Foes’ Next Target: Medical Waste Company

An Ohio anti-choice group has targeted a medical waste company that it has deemed the "weak link" in Planned Parenthood's abortion care operation.

An Ohio anti-choice group has targeted a medical waste company that it has deemed the "weak link" in Planned Parenthood's abortion care operation. Shutterstock

An activist group that opposes abortion rights is pressuring a medical waste company to cut its ties with Planned Parenthood.

Created Equal, based in Columbus, Ohio, last week launched “Project Weak Link,” so named because its goal is to focus on what the group has deemed to be the weak link in Planned Parenthood’s abortion care operations: the health-care organization’s process for handling tissue disposal. Created Equal is beginning the campaign by targeting Stericycle, a medical and pharmaceutical waste management company headquartered in Lake Forest, Illinois.

By directing activists to flood the voicemail box and inbox of Stericycle’s CEO, Created Equal officials are hoping Stericycle will sever its professional relationship with Planned Parenthood.

“If we don’t act NOW to pressure these medical waste companies to discontinue providing Planned Parenthood the services to dispose of aborted children and the instruments used to kill them, we will have missed a historic opportunity to stop the killing,” Mark Harrington, Created Equal’s national director, said in a press release.

Created Equal has asserted that Stericycle is Planned Parenthood’s main medical waste service provider. On its website for this campaign, titled “Killers Among Us,” Created Equal links to several videos showing Stericycle trucks entering and exiting Planned Parenthood clinics in various cities. Anti-choice activists shout after Stericycle truck drivers to stop this work in some of the videos.

Neither Planned Parenthood nor Stericycle responded to requests for comment.

Created Equal is basing its “weak link” theory on video footage surreptitiously recorded by the anti-choice front group known as the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), showing abortion providers at a National Abortion Federation (NAF) conference discussing the difficulties of disposing fetal tissue. Although a federal judge blocked CMP from releasing any more videos of the NAF meetings, Created Equal appears to be relying on footage leaked after that order by conservative blogger Charles C. Johnson.

Created Equal, encouraging activists to contact Stericycle’s CEO, has started a petition urging the company to stop working with Planned Parenthood. It says on its website that it has created a mobile billboard and postcards with images claiming to show a bloody, dismembered fetus and the message “Stericycle supports killing children” to be delivered to the neighborhoods of Stericycle board members. The group also plans to stage protests at selected Stericycle locations.

The Ohio government has targeted the state’s Planned Parenthood affiliate for its fetal tissue disposal practices.

The state’s Republican-launched investigation into allegations that the health-care provider was selling fetal tissue turned up no evidence. That investigation stemmed from CMP’s heavily edited smear videos.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office in December alleged that Planned Parenthood clinics were improperly disposing fetal remains in landfills. Organization officials responded that Planned Parenthood, like other health-care providers, generally disposes of medical waste through contractors, as Rewire reported.

Planned Parenthood affiliates in Ohio sued the attorney general to block “arbitrary enforcement of fetal tissue disposal regulations,” in response to the state’s allegations and threats of legal action. That suit is ongoing.

Stericycle told the Associated Press in a statement that it has a longstanding policy against accepting fetal remains. A Planned Parenthood official in the same story said “the agency believes its Stericycle contract allows for the removal of fetal tissue.”

Lawmakers in the GOP-majority Ohio legislature last year introduced two bills, HB 417 and HB 419, that would require abortion care providers to dispose of fetal remains either by burial, cremation, or “an approved hospital type of incineration.” Both bills are pending.