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Texas Health Officials Want To Require Burial Or Cremation Of Fetal Tissue

Texas health officials want to require clinics that conduct abortions or treat women after a miscarriage to either bury or cremate any remaining fetal tissue, a move reproductive rights advocates are denouncing as part of an ongoing effort by the state to stigmatize women who chose to end a pregnancy.  

The Texas Health and Human Service Commission proposed the new rules on July 1, four days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the state's strict regulation of abortion providers was unconstitutional.

"What the department has done with these regulations is singled out only patients seeking abortion care and treatment for miscarriages for more burdensome regulations and there is no health justification for that treatment," said Amanda Allen, an attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights, the organization that represented Texas abortion clinics in the Supreme Court.

The center sent a letter to the Texas Department of State Health Services on Monday criticizing the proposed rules and citing possible legal violations. Allen said the additional regulation could result in increased costs which providers could pass on to patients.

Bryan Black, a spokesman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, said the new rules would ensure the highest standard of human dignity.

Current law permits fetal tissue to be disposed in a sanitary landfill or sewer system. The state health department will hold a public hearing to address the new rules Thursday. If the rules are approved, the could go into effect in September.  

Similar rules in Indiana and Louisiana are currently facing legal challenges.