Texas to require burial or cremation of aborted, miscarried fetuses


Medical facilities in Texas will be required to cremate or bury aborted and miscarried fetuses starting Dec. 19.

Since the policy was first proposed in July, the Texas Department of State Health Services held two public hearings and received 35,000 comments from abortion rights advocates and their opponents, who have argued that the policy would give fetuses the respect that they deserve.

Critics, however, said the rule is unconstitutional because it discourages women from getting an abortion. Opponents also said the rule retraumatizes women after a miscarriage, and that it doesn’t protect the public’s health.

“The addition of nonmedical ritual to current clinical practice only serves to further interfere with a patient’s autonomy and decision-making in their own medical care,” said Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas. “Instead of passing laws that further complicate a patient’s experience and force them to consider burial services, we should focus on making sure that patients are supported, respected, and empowered in their decision.”

>> Read more trending stories

Agency officials have argued that the rule will protect the public from communicable diseases.

Current rules allow fetal remains, as with other medical tissue, to be ground and discharged into a sewer system, incinerated or disinfected and then disposed of in a landfill.

The proposal is part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s Life Initiative, meant to “protect the unborn and prevent the sale of baby body parts,” according to a statement on his website.

“These rules provide a comparable level of protection to public health, while eliminating disposition options that are clearly incompatible with the Legislature’s articulated objective of protecting the dignity of the unborn,” according to the agency’s justification for the new policy, published in the Texas Register on Monday.

Carrie Williams, spokeswoman for the state Health and Human Services Commission, said the agency tweaked the original proposal after feedback from the public. Women who miscarry at home are excluded from the disposal requirements, and birth and death certificates aren’t required for burial and cremation of a fetus.

The new fetal tissue rule would affect 236 small facilities, primarily abortion facilities and ambulatory centers, according to the state’s analysis.

The analysis said those facilities could incur some cost, “but that cost is expected to be off-set” by the money the facilities spend now on disposing of tissue.

Facilities could also save money by working with private entities that have offered to help cover burial fees, according to the analysis.

The rule wouldn’t need legislative approval as it is subject to the general authority of the state health agency to amend rules “as needed to keep them current,” Williams has said.

Still, state Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, filed a bill this month that would require health care facilities, including abortion clinics, to ensure that all fetal remains are buried or cremated.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation & World

Grandson surprises grandfather with restored 1957 Chevy
Grandson surprises grandfather with restored 1957 Chevy

Fred Lamar’s 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air sat in a garage, just as he left it, for 30 years. Until about a year ago, when his grandson, Cameron Dedman, started restoring the iconic Motor City machine. On Saturday, Lamar, 81, nearly passed out when the car was revealed to him. “I have been doing a full frame off restoration of this car a big surprise...
Is feeding a cold a real thing? 5 winter health myths debunked
Is feeding a cold a real thing? 5 winter health myths debunked

You've probably heard winter health myths for years and you may have even accepted some of them as fact. From being told to bundle up, so you don't catch a cold to your neighbor swearing he got the flu from his flu shot, these myths make the rounds every winter. Mom always warned you you'd get sick if you didn't bundle up before heading out in cold...
Teen accused of killing acquaintance who sold him paprika instead of pot 
Teen accused of killing acquaintance who sold him paprika instead of pot 

A Utah teenager has been charged as an adult in a homicide that police investigators said took place after another teen sold him cooking spices instead of marijuana. Seth Carreras, 17, of Layton, was moved into the adult population at the Davis County Jail earlier this month, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. He is being held without bail on...
Reports: North and South Korea to form joint Olympic team, march together in opening ceremony
Reports: North and South Korea to form joint Olympic team, march together in opening ceremony

South Korea and North Korea have agreed to create a joint Olympic team and march together in the opening ceremony in the next Winter Olympics, The Associated Press reported Wednesday. The two countries met for the second time in a week Monday to discuss the possibility of creating a joint ice hockey team for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang...
Betsy DeVos: Common Core is dead at U.S. Department of Education
Betsy DeVos: Common Core is dead at U.S. Department of Education

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos gave a far-ranging speech today in Washington at an American Enterprise Institute conference, “Bush-Obama School Reform: Lessons Learned.” >> Read more trending news  She announced the death of Common Core, at least in her federal agency. DeVos also decried the federal government&rsquo...
More Stories