Texas Imposes New Obstacles on Abortion Providers and Their Patients

Monday, December 05, 2016
Gov. Greg Abbott (photo: Brendan Smialowski, AFP/Getty Images)


By Lizette Alvarez, New York Times


MIAMI — Despite losing a milestone abortion case at the U.S. Supreme Court this summer, Texas threw down another stumbling block last week. It will require facilities that provide abortions to pay for the cremation or burial of fetal remains, rather than dispose of them as biological medical waste.


It is the latest attempt by abortion opponents to make it more burdensome for women to get abortions — by creating rules and laws that make it more difficult for providers to stay in business. In finalizing its rule, Texas joined at least three other states — Arkansas, Louisiana and Indiana — that have called for the burial or cremation of aborted fetal remains. With lawsuits pending, the regulations in Indiana and Louisiana have not yet gone into effect.


The regulations regarding the disposal of remains were rewritten in Texas to “protect the dignity of the unborn,” a move that has been championed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, a staunch opponent of abortion.


The new regulations have been in the works for the past year and have received scores of comments, both positive and negative.


The regulations, which take effect Dec. 19, raised questions about the effect they would have on abortion health care providers, women who seek abortions or even funeral directors who worry this could increase their costs, as well.


The new regulations do not apply to women who miscarry at home; they affect only those women who have abortions or miscarry at health care facilities. They also apply to women who undergo abortions because of ectopic pregnancies — pregnancies that involve fertilized eggs that implant outside the uterus, often in the fallopian tube, and can result in a rupture.


Abortion rights organizations said they are reviewing the rules and have not decided whether to file a lawsuit. But they said the regulations appear to contradict a June ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, which found that restrictions on abortions must serve a public health purpose.


“This only affects how a licensed medical facility, like a hospital, disposes of this tissue,” said Blake Rocap, the legislative counsel for Naral in Texas. “Which of course makes it clear that there is no real public health interest in having this regulation. It’s perfectly OK for the tissue to be disposed of at home, if it’s the result of a spontaneous miscarriage or a medical abortion that takes place at home.”


To Learn More:

U.S. Abortion Rights Reaffirmed as Supreme Court Calls Texas Clinic Closings Illegal (by Nina Martin, ProPublica)

Texas Planned Parenthood Closings Led to Fewer Women Obtaining Contraceptives (by Paul J. Weber, Associated Press)

Federal Court Approves Texas Law Requiring Abortion Providers to Have Hospital Privileges (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Family Planning Budget Cuts in Texas Lead to Increase in Poor Women having Babies (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Texas Abortion Clinic Closures Likely Triggered Thousands of Attempted Self-Induced Abortions (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)


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