Judge bows to pressure, stops Texas from implementing rules requiring proper burial for aborted babies
U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks gave the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) a temporary restraining order, the Houston Chronicle reported, in a hearing last week that was “at times testy.”
The pro-abortion group, suing on behalf of several abortion providers, argued that mandating abortionists and health centers to provide for the burial or cremation of fetal remains was meant to reduce access to abortion by driving up the cost.
The Texas Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed rules in July requiring hospitals, other medical centers, and abortion facilities to bury or cremate the remains of children they abort or those that miscarried at health centers. The regulations did not apply to children aborted or miscarried at home.
Without the regulations, the fetal remains are treated as medical waste and abortionists are free to dispose of the children in landfills or down garbage disposals.
“The Health and Human Services Commission developed new rules to ensure Texas law maintains the highest standards of human dignity,” HHS Commission spokesman Bryan Black said at the time.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott supported the proposed rules and hoped the state’s lawmakers would write them into law when the new session convenes in January. "Governor Abbott believes human and fetal remains should not be treated like medical waste, and the proposed rule changes affirms the value and dignity of all life," his spokeswoman, Ciara Matthews, said.
The rules were finalized November 28 and due to go in effect December 19.
Abortion supporters reacted in anger, saying “Christo-fascists” were behind them and telling women to “dump the ashes” of their aborted children “on the TX capitol steps.”
The CRR, which actively works to repeal pro-life legislation in the U.S. and push abortion internationally, filed suit earlier this year when a Colorado Catholic hospital refused to perform sterilizations in keeping with its religious principles. Last year, CRR sued to preserve the legality of dismemberment abortions on behalf of two Kansas abortionists and also sued the state of Florida after Governor Rick Scott signed a waiting period law.
CRR had threatened to sue last August to block the Texas rule. It claimed that the state was “undermining the dignity and autonomy of women to make their own choices of reproductive health care” and that the rules were designed to “further shame and stigmatize patients seeking productive healthcare in the state.”
The next hearing is scheduled for January 3. Sparks is expected to decide before January 6 whether to allow the rules go into effect.