Texas Rules Fetal Remains Must Be Buried, Cremated

Whether they're from miscarriages or abortions, no matter the gestational age
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 29, 2016 1:16 PM CST
Texas Rules Fetal Remains Must Be Buried, Cremated
Dr. Bhavik Kumar knocks on a clinic room door at the Whole Woman's Health clinic in Fort Worth, Texas, on June 3, 2016.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Texas women came forward earlier this month to tell their miscarriage and abortion stories to fend off proposed new funerary rules for embryonic and fetal tissue, but sharing their experiences apparently fell short of the mark. Per state health officials, starting Dec. 19, hospitals, abortion clinics, and other facilities will be banned from disposing of fetal remains in sanitary landfills, the Texas Tribune reports. Instead, they'll be required to bury or cremate the remains, no matter the gestational age—a move spurring "intense outcry" from reproductive rights advocates, as well as from medical providers. "The state [Health and Human Services Commission] has once again ignored the concerns of the medical community and thousands of Texans by playing politics with people's private health-care decisions," Heather Busby, director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, says in a statement.

But health officials say they've addressed the major concerns brought up during what the Washington Post calls "months of controversy" since the initial July proposal. In terms of privacy, birth or death certificates aren't required, and miscarriages or abortions at home don't have to comply. As for the costs, the medical care facilities will pay, with costs "offset by the elimination of some current methods of disposition," per the health department. The commission notes the rules will lead to "enhanced protection of the health and safety of the public," but women's rights advocates say it's nothing more than a veiled attempt to restrict abortion access, per the Dallas Morning News. "These new restrictions reveal the callous indifference that Texas politicians have toward women," a Center for Reproductive Rights lawyer says, adding the rules will "almost certainly trigger costly litigation," per the Tribune. (More Texas stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.