Texas ‘Fetal Remains’ Rules Draw Legal Challenge

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Texas ‘Fetal Remains’ Rules Draw Legal Challenge

Teddy Wilson

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said the GOP-backed rules mandating the burial or cremation of embryonic and fetal tissue are an "insult to Texas women."

The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) on Monday filed a lawsuit requesting the U.S. District Court block Texas regulations that mandate the burial or cremation of embryonic and fetal tissue that results from abortions, miscarriages, or ectopic pregnancy surgery.

The lawsuit claims that the regulations have “no public health benefit” and do “nothing to improve public health or safety.”

The Texas Department of State Health Services published the final version of proposed rules that require the burial or cremation of aborted or miscarried fetuses, despite criticism from funeral homes, abortion providers, and reproductive rights advocates.

The regulations, which would add upwards of $2,000 to the cost of abortion care, would apply to all fetal remains regardless of the period of gestation.

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Under the proposed rules, any other tissue, “including placenta, umbilical cord and gestational sac,” could be disposed of through “grinding and discharging to a sanitary sewer system; incineration followed by deposition of the residue in a sanitary landfill.”

The rules apply only to abortions or miscarriages that occur in a medical facility. 

The rules are set to take effect December 19.

CRR filed the lawsuit on behalf of Whole Woman’s Health, the Texas abortion provider that successfully challenged the state’s anti-choice law known as HB 2.

Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, said in a statement that rules are just Texas officials’ “latest attack” on access to abortion care.

“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,” Hagstrom Miller said. “We will not stand for Texas putting more undue burdens on women and families who deserve the safe and compassionate abortion care that we provide at Whole Woman’s Health.”

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement that the rules, backed by many Texas GOP lawmakers, are an “insult to Texas women.”

“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,” Northup said. “The Center for Reproductive Rights will continue to fight for Texas women, and women across the nation, to ensure their rights are protected.”