No easy disposal for you

Texas is holding hearings on a “fetal remains” rule “that prohibits hospitals, abortion clinics and other health care facilities from disposing of fetal remains in sanitary landfills, instead allowing only cremation or interment of all remains — regardless of the period of gestation — even in instances of miscarriages.”

With little notice and no announcement, the proposed change was published in the Texas Register on July 1. In a fundraising email sent to supporters last month, Abbott said the rules were proposed because he didn’t believe fetal remains should be “treated like medical waste and disposed of in landfills.”

That prompted outrage from the reproductive rights community, which accused state leaders of placing unnecessary regulations on abortion providers. Medical professionals also raised concerns about who would bear the costs associated with cremation or interment — a figure that can reach several thousand dollars in each case — and why the rule change does not allow an exception for miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies.

Is the state going to follow up on all the women who produced the fetal remains to make sure they’re mourning properly? Is the state going to monitor the women’s levels of grief for a state period – a month? Six months? Ten years?

In questioning the health-related justifications for the proposed rules, Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Texas testified that state health officials have not provided any evidence that current methods used by abortion providers to dispose of fetal tissue — which have been approved by the state for 20 years — are less safe or not optimal for public health and safety.

State officials have defended the rule change, saying it was proposed in “the best interests of the public health of Texas.” They also say the proposed rule change reflects the state’s efforts to affirm the “highest standards of human dignity.”

Ah there you go – human dignity. It’s a backdoor way of trying to compel everyone to agree that the fetal remains are in fact the corpse of a Baby, and must be treated with reverence. The implications are obvious.

The possibility of a legal challenge to the rule change hung over the hearing, with many repeating a warning by reproductive rights lawyers that the proposal “will almost certainly trigger costly litigation.”

In a letter sent to health officials ahead of the hearing, the Center for Reproductive Rights — which represented abortion providers in their recent landmark victory over Texas’ 2013 abortion restrictions — argued that the rules are “plainly in violation” of the legal standard abortion regulations must meet to be deemed constitutional.

That legal standard was clarified by the U.S. Supreme Court in its ruling overturning the 2013 abortion restrictions, which spelled out that lawmakers must provide evidence that an abortion regulation furthers a state interest, like promoting health, without placing an undue burden on women’s access to the procedure to be constitutional.

There is no state interest in promoting the “human dignity” of fetal remains. That should be the business of the parents, and no one else.

H/t Gretchen

6 Responses to “No easy disposal for you”