A federal judge on Friday issued a preliminary injunction blocking the State of Texas from implementing rules that require cremation or burial of “fetal remains.”
Judge Sam Sparks wrote in the decision that the rules implemented by Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) constituted an “undue burden” on access to abortion care.
“It seems unlikely DSHS’s professed purpose is a valid state interest and not a pretext for restricting abortion access,” Sparks wrote. “By comparison, Plaintiffs face likely constitutional violations, which could severely limit abortion access in Texas.”
The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit in December challenging the rules, and will now seek an order from the court to permanently strike down the rules.
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The rules could add up to $2,000 to the cost of abortion care, according to the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Texas.
Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement that the rules are “unnecessary, unconstitutionally vague, and manifestly insulting to women.”
“Today’s ruling acknowledges that these regulations do nothing to protect public health while imposing new burdens and uncertainty on health care providers and the diverse communities they serve,” Northup said.
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.”
Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, praised the judge’s decision in a statement, and vowed to continue fighting for reproductive rights.
“It is so important that our resiliency continues to blaze a path so that people in all communities are empowered to stand up and continue to fight back against political interference that attempts to regulate our lives,” Miller said.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) said in a statement that he will appeal the court’s ruling.
Sparks wrote that the injunction will remain in place until further ordered and that despite the injunction, the court “preserves its ability to render a meaningful decision on the merits.” A trial date has yet to be determined.
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