Killing unborn babies isn’t offensive but apparently having to burying them is, according to a Texas abortion provider’s statement to a judge this week.
The new rule, introduced in July by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, requires that abortion facilities, hospitals and other medical centers either cremate or bury the remains of aborted and miscarried babies. State officials said the rule does not apply to miscarriages or abortions that take place at home.
Whole Woman’s Health, a Texas abortion chain, and the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit against the rule, and a judge temporarily blocked it in December. They claim the rule is unconstitutional and does not benefit the public.
On Tuesday, the abortion groups argued their case before U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks in Austin, according to Reuters.
“I find the interference by the government into women’s personal health decisions to be morally offensive,” Hagstrom Miller told the judge.
Here’s more from the report:
She said it would require the tissue to be treated differently than other human tissue, increase costs and require the fetal tissue to be buried whether or not the woman wants it.
Sparks, who last month put the regulation on hold before it was to take effect on Dec. 19, also issued a temporary restraining order then to delay enactment until at least Jan. 6.
Reverend Debra Haffner, called as a witness for Whole Woman’s Health, said the regulation enshrines into law one particular religious view on fetal tissue disposal when there is a diversity of religious views on the matter.
The Texas limitations would be more stringent than regulations in almost every other state, which allow aborted fetal tissue to be disposed of the same as other human tissue, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights group.
Whole Woman’s Health is the same abortion chain whose lawsuit succeeded in overturning Texas abortion facility regulations in June at the U.S. Supreme Court. The abortion groups claim the new rule is a “direct defiance” of the recent Supreme Court ruling, which said states cannot impose undue burdens on women’s access to abortion without legitimate health or safety reasons.
One of the issues abortion activists claim creates an undue burden is the cost of cremating or burying the aborted babies.
However, Texas health department spokesperson Carrie Williams previously said their research indicates that the rule will not increase costs.
“While the methods described in the new rules may have a cost, that cost is expected to be offset by costs currently being spent by facilities on disposition for transportation, storage, incineration, steam disinfection and/or landfill disposal,” Williams said.
Serious concerns about the treatment of human remains are a key motive behind the new rules.
During a commission hearing in August, supporters said the rules are necessary because abortion facilities treat unborn babies’ bodies like garbage and sometimes dump them down public sewer drains, Fox 7 reported. Texas state Rep. Mark Keough mentioned a gruesome case in 2005 when a woman who worked near a Houston abortion facility saw tiny aborted babies’ limbs and other body parts in a parking lot when a sewer line broke.
Currently, abortion facilities can dispose of aborted babies’ bodies in landfills or give them to research groups. Though it is illegal, there is a possibility that abortion facilities also could be selling them for a profit.
More states are moving to require dignified burials of aborted babies’ bodies after undercover videos revealed evidence that Planned Parenthood and other abortion facilities may be selling aborted babies’ body parts. The Center for Medical Progress videos prompted a number of states and the U.S. House to open investigations into the matter.
In Ohio, the state attorney general’s investigation found that Planned Parenthood was “steam cooking” aborted babies’ bodies before dumping them in landfills. A state investigation in South Carolina also caught Planned Parenthood facilities illegally dumping aborted babies’ bodies in public landfills, and fined them for it.
Brookside Women’s Health Center and Austin Women’s Health Center, Alamo Women’s Reproductive Services, Reproductive Services and Dr. Lendol Davis also are involved in the lawsuit.