A new law has been passed in Texas that will require all abortion providers to bury or cremate all fetal remains, regardless of the gestational period.
According to the Texas Tribune, the law was proposed by health officials in July, and received full support from Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. At the time, Abbott sent out an email seeking financial contributions for his “LIFE Initiative” in hopes of becoming the “strongest pro-life state in the nation” by not allowing fetal remains to be treated like medical waste and be disposed of in landfills.
“I believe it is imperative to establish higher standards that reflect our respect for the sanctity of life,” Abbott wrote. “This is why Texas will require clinics and hospitals to bury or cremate human and fetal remains.”
Texas Abortion Providers Now Required to Bury and Cremate Any Fetal Remains https://t.co/uRiKwgYhPn
— Megan Solis (@missolmega) November 30, 2016
Despite the support from Abbott, the proposal was met with harsh criticism from the reproductive rights community.
“The rules target physicians that provide abortions and the hospitals that care for patients for no reason other than to make it harder to get a safe, legal abortion in Texas,” Blake Rocap, a member of the legislative counsel for NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, said. “It’s so transparent that what they’re really trying to do is denying access to abortion.”
In August, dozens of women appeared at the Texas Department of State Health Services to testify against the proposed changes to the law.
Denee Booker was one of the women to speak, recalling a 2014 car accident that lead to the death of her child in utero. At the suggestion of her doctors, Booker had the fetus removed instead of waiting for it to naturally pass. She said that it would have traumatized her even more to have to bury or cremate the remains.
— Slate (@Slate) November 29, 2016
“That I would have had to take or make either of those decisions is mind-boggling and terrifying,” Booker said. “I can’t imagine how much worse that would’ve made my situation.”
Along with the reproductive rights community’s concerns, medical providers, including the Texas Medical Association and the Texas Hospital Association, questioned who would be responsible for the costs associated with the burial or cremation — the provider or the patient.
In response to the concerns, Texas’ Health and Human Services Commission made some clarifications. First, the law does not apply to miscarriages or abortions that take place at home. Carrie Williams, a spokeswoman from the Department of State Health Services, said the costs will be the responsibility of the provider, and shouldn’t be a major concern as they will be offset by the funds that are currently being used to dispose of the fetal remains.
Ugh. Texas is about to enact horrifying new rules about abortion: https://t.co/3tupAVhLH1 pic.twitter.com/3EDI1aadEE
— Fusion (@Fusion) November 29, 2016
“What we found through our research is that the proposed rules won’t increase total costs for healthcare facilities,” Williams said in an email, according to the Dallas Morning News. “While the methods described in the new rules may have a cost, that cost is expected to be offset by costs currently being spent by facilities on disposition for transportation, storage, incineration, steam disinfection and/or landfill disposal.”
Currently, fetal tissue, blood, organs, and other body parts are allowed to be discarded, incinerated, or ground before being dumped in a sanitary landfill. However, on December 19, the new law will take effect, and it will be required for all abortion providers to bury or cremate the remains. In addition, to maintain confidentiality, no birth or death certificates will have to be filed.
While there are those who find the new ruling unfair to women, others are supporting the law, and are glad to see changes being made in the state of Texas.
“For far too long, Texas has allowed the most innocent among us to be thrown out with the daily waste,” state Sen. Don Huffines (R-Dallas) said in August. “Life begins at conception.”
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