Today the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas over their new rule requiring fetal tissue from an abortion or miscarriage to be either buried or cremated, a mandate that abortion rights activists say will increase both the cost and the stigma associated with abortion.
“These insidious regulations are a new low in Texas’ long history of denying women the respect that they deserve to make their own decision about their lives and their healthcare,” said Nancy Northrup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.
The Center is arguing that the new rule stands in unambiguous defiance of the recent Supreme Court ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which ruled against Texas and upheld that restrictions on abortion must not impose an undue burden on women without providing proof of a medical benefit. Texas now faces a $4.5 million legal bill over its defense of those unconstitutional laws.
The plaintiff from June’s Supreme Court case, Amy Hagstrom-Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, is also serving as lead plaintiff in the lawsuit filed today. In a statement, she said, “We at Whole Woman’s Health have a history of fighting restrictions that are deeply rooted in shaming and stigmatizing Texans and today’s filing is no different.”
Currently, fetal and embryonic remains are disposed of like all other medical waste, in sanitary landfills. The state has yet to provide evidence as to how the burial requirement provides any enhanced protections to the health and safety of the public.
While the new rules fall under the discretion of the health department, and do not need to be approved by the legislature, Republican lawmakers have already made clear their intention to write the rules into law when they reconvene in January.
More than 330 new abortion restrictions have been passed by state legislators in the last five years. Indiana and Louisiana have also passed mandatory fetal burial regulations this year. Both states have yet to implement the new regulation due to legal challenges filed by women’s health advocates.