A new law has been introduced to prohibit the disposal of tissue from a miscarriage or abortion as regular hospital waste in Texas. Instead, according to mom.me, the foetus must be treated as a deceased human. From December 19, women will be required to bury or cremate the foetus from a miscarriage or abortion, no matter how far along in gestation the pregnancy terminated.
The foetal remains can either be buried directly after an abortion has been performed, or buried or scattered after the tissue has been incinerated. It has been dubbed the “foetus funeral”.
Importantly, the law does not apply to miscarriages or abortions performed outside a medical clinic. For example, a woman who miscarriages at home does not need to transport the remains to a hospital to arrange a legal burial.
Understandably, the law has attracted huge protest from pro-choice groups.
The current Governor of Texas Greg Abbott – who directed the writing of the law – has a history of opposing abortion rights. Shortly after the bill was passed, Governor Abbott sent out a fundraising letter claiming it was a step forward in “preserving human dignity”.
“[The new rules are] a thinly veiled attempt to shame Texans who have abortions and make it harder for the doctors who provide them,” executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas Heather Busby told The New York Times. “The state agency has once again ignored the concerns of the medical community and thousands of Texans by playing politics with people’s private health care decisions. [The Texas Department of State Health Services] has failed to show any evidence this rule benefits public health or improves the safe practice of modern medicine.”
According to mom.me healthcare advocates in Texas have argued at hearings: “the new rule does not benefit the health of Texas women, nor does it improve on safe medical practices, which is the aim of health department regulations and actions.”
The Satanic Temple (of all places) has also pushed back.
The atheist group that believes “one’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone” is planning to sue the Texas state department should the new laws be enacted.
A statement, issued by the group on Saturday, claims burial is a “well-established component of religious practice” and forcing burial and cremation goes against the religion freedom rights afforded by the First Amendment.
The Temple’s statement also addressed the reproductive rights of women, stating: “Clearly, the State of Texas has no compelling reason because these rules were not enacted to promote health and safety, but rather to harass and burden women who terminate their pregnancies.”