The fetal burial rule approved by the Texas Department of Health and Human Services has been temporarily blocked by a federal judge. Set to go into effect on December 19th, the rule would require clinics to bury or cremate the fetal remains after an abortion procedure rather than dispose of them in sanitary landfills.
Earlier this week, the Center for Reproductive Rights sued the state of Texas over the mandate on the grounds that it would increase the costs and stigma associated with abortion services, and provides no medical benefit to the woman receiving the abortion, in direct violation of the Supreme Court ruling Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. That ruling was decided this past summer and declared Texas’s HB 2 laws unconstitutional as it placed an undue burden on women with no evidence of a medical benefit.
Federal Judge Sam Sparks issued the restraining order after the state’s attorneys refused to hold off on enforcing the fetal burial rule until after the hearing of the case.
Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice of Texas Heather Busby issued a statement, declaring that “This rule is a thinly-veiled attempt to shame Texans who have abortions and make it harder for the doctors who provide them.”
Women’s health care providers and abortion activists are not the only ones concerned with the fetal burial requirements. Funeral home directors are worried about the inevitable cost increases that will ensue if the rules are enforced. Spokesman of the Texas State Funeral Directors Association, Michael Land, described the costs, saying “Fetal death cremation could approach $400, $450. Just a grave space alone in a little moderate cemetery will cost at least $500, $550.”
The court will reconvene on January 3rd and a decision is set to be made before January 6th.