After a Supreme Court battle this summer over the TRAP Laws which closed over half of the abortion clinics in the state of Texas, Republican Governor Greg Abbot is once again attempting to over-regulate abortion care providers into submission. According to the New York Times, Texas just passed a law requiring all fetal remains to be buried or cremated, which abortion rights advocates claim is an unnecessary step and in no way benefits women’s health.
This move is intended to evoke shame and add more requirements to the abortion process, making it more difficult for mothers and providers. Fetal remains are typically disposed of with medical waste in a sanitary landfill. It is not medically necessary to bury fetal remains; yet, Governor Abbot told his supporters in a letter obtained by the Texas Tribune that the move is to assert the state’s belief in “the sanctity of life.” The law requires fetal remains to be buried, no matter the length of the gestation period.
Texas abortion rights advocates claim that burying fetal remains will incur additional costs for women seeking abortions and burial is, frankly, a pointless requirement for an abortion procedure. CNN reports that the new rule, which will go in effect on December 9th, was proposed to “prevent communicable diseases.” However, Abbot’s fundraising letter suggests that this is primarily an ideological move.
The Texas Department of Health and Human Services has clarified that women who miscarry or have an abortion at home are not required to bury the fetal remains. The rule applies to women who miscarry or have an abortion at hospitals and clinics, however.
Fetal burial rules have already become laws in anti-abortion states, such as Indiana, and churning out regulatory rules for abortion care providers are an effective strategy for pro-life advocates, since fighting these rules all the way to the Supreme Court is expensive and time consuming process. All the while, additional and unnecessary burdens are placed on the women of Texas, particular low income women and women of color, who are usually the most impacted by decisions to increase costs of abortion care.
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