Texas judge blocks anti-abortion law requiring burials for fetal remains

December 16, 2016, 11:52am

A federal judge in Texas issued a temporary restraining order on a controversial new law that would have forced medical providers to bury or cremate any fetal remains resulting from an abortion or miscarriage.

The rules, which were slated to go into effect Dec. 19, would have required abortion providers to bury or cremate all fetal remains, regardless of the length of gestation. Normally, fetal remains are disposed of in sanitary landfills in the same manner as any other type of medical waste.


“These insidious regulations are a new low in Texas’ long history of denying women the respect they deserve to make their own decision about their lives and their healthcare,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, the organization that sued the state over the law, in a statement.

The law was proposed in June just four days after the Supreme Court struck down another Texas law that required abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. The fetal burial law is part of a wave of similar abortion restrictions popping up around the country following that Supreme Court decision. A similar law requiring fetus burials passed last spring in Indiana, but a judge blocked it from going into effect in June.

Advocates of the law say it provides dignity to unborn life. The anti-abortion group Americans United for Life drafted the legislation in Texas and intends to use it as a model for elsewhere in the country.

The Texas judge wanted to hear more about how the law would affect abortion clinics and women’s access to reproductive care, reported the Houston Chronicle. He issued the restraining order after the state’s attorneys refused to postpone the enforcement of the law until the case had been heard.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the law after two lengthy public hearings, more than 35,000 public comments and an outpouring of criticism from medical professionals and reproductive rights advocates.

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