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Under current Texas law, “fetal remains” from abortions are most often disposed in sanitary landfills or sewers, but that will all change come December 19th.
According to the Texas Tribune, the Lone Star State will require hospitals, abortion clinics and other health care facilities to cremate or bury all fetal remains, strictly prohibiting dumping them in a landfill or sewer.
The decision comes after months of opposition from abortion rights advocates. As KVUE reports, an emotional hearing in August had Texan Kelli Bland voicing strong resistance to the then-proposed law:
“As a human Texas woman I want to do with my body what I wish. If it was something where they wanted to mandate that it was a possibility for everyone woman to make that choice for herself, then I would be all for this, but that's not what they say.”
Executive director of Texas Alliance for Life and supporter of the proposed change, Joe Pojman, stood his ground at the hearing: [emphasis added]
“The bodies of the victims of abortion should never be treated like medical waste. The law currently allow for some horrific things to happen, after an abortion the facility can take the remains of a baby and grind them and flush them down the city's water and sewer system, that's a horrendous thought.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott proposed the fetal remains change in July, seemingly taking notes from Gov. Mike Pence, who had tried to implement a similar law that same month in Indiana.
According to Vox, Pence's proposal was blocked by a federal judge for “violating women's right to choose,” making Texas the first state to implement a law requiring the cremation or burial of fetal remains.
As the Dallas Morning News reports, Blake Rocap, legislative counsel for advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, said the new law is politicians' way to restrict access to abortion services:
“The rules target physicians that provide abortions and the hospitals that care for patients for no reason other than to make it harder to get a safe, legal abortion in Texas. It's so transparent that what they're really trying to do is denying access to abortion.”
The state's Health and Human Services Commission later clarified the rules would not apply to miscarriages or abortions that take place at home. Health officials have also noted that women who have the abortions will not be financially responsible for the cremations or burials; rather, health care facilities would foot the bill.