New Texas provisions to require burial or cremation of aborted fetuses

New state regulations set to go into effect in December will change the way medical providers and facility handle fetal remains.

Beginning December 19, fetal remains will have to be buried or cremated.

The regulations were first published this summer, shortly following a Supreme Court decision striking down Texas legislation meant to impose stricter requirements on abortion clinics.

On Monday, the Health and Human Services Commission filed the final rules.

Pro-life advocates, like Texas Values, believe the ruling is a step in the right direction.

"We're very thankful that these rules are being implemented," said Nicole Hudgens, the State Outreach Coordinator for the group.

They believe new policies will allow for a more humane way to treat the fetal remains.

"These unborn children are going to be treated with dignity and respect by being buried or cremated rather than being thrown into a landfill," Hudgens explain.

But pro-choice advocates believe the bill has zero public health value and is solely meant to restrict women's rights.

"We're really appalled that Texas seems to be thumbing its nose at the Supreme Court," explained Trisha Trigilio, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Texas.

She argues this is just the latest in a series of proposed rules, regulations and legislation filed by lawmakers to limit abortion options throughout the state.

"We've seen over the last few years in Texas politicians pass dozens of restrictions that have resulted in more than half of the abortion clinics in our state closing. The actual purpose of these restrictions is to take more steps towards completely blocking access to abortion in our state," explained Trigilio.

The cost of the burial process will be the responsibility of the medical provider, but Trigilio said that cost will likely be passed on to the patient, creating an additional financial barrier.

"We got a strong affirmation from the supreme Court this summer that the right to terminate a pregnancy falls under a women's personal privacy rights under the Constitution.  And we intend to continue fighting for that right no matter what our politicians try to do," explained Trigilio.

In a statement on behalf of Governor Abbott's Office, spokesperson Ciara Matthews told KVUE:

“Governor Abbott believes human and fetal remains should not be treated like medical waste, and the proposed rule changes affirms the value and dignity of all life. For the unborn, the mothers and the hospital and clinic staff, the governor believes it is imperative to establish higher standards that reflect our respect for the sanctity of life. Further, it is Governor Abbott’s hope that the legislature will consider legislation next session to enshrine the new rules into state law.”

Trigilio said the ACLU will explore legal avenues to challenge the constitutionality of these new provisions. 


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