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Texas Wants Aborted Fetuses Buried or Cremated

Bob Daemmrich
Texas Tribune
An exam room at ChoiceWorks, formerly Whole Woman's Health Clinic, on June 27, 2016, the day the U.S. Supreme Court struck down portions of HB 2 restricting women's access to abortions in Texas.

In a new effort to regulate abortion providers, Texas health officials are proposing rules that would require abortion providers to cremate or bury fetal remains.

The new rules, proposed by the Health and Human Services Commission, would no longer allow abortion providers to dispose of fetal remains in sanitary landfills, instead allowing only cremation or interment of all remains — regardless of the period of gestation. Abortion providers currently use third-party special waste disposal services.

“The Health and Human Services Commission developed new rules to ensure Texas law maintains the highest standards of human dignity,” said health commission spokesman Bryan Black.

With little notice and no announcement, the proposed rules were published in the Texas Register on July 1, triggering a 30-day public comment period. “Public comment will be taken and then the final rules are expected to take effect in September,” Black added.

Because the proposed rules would not be in statute, they might not require approval by lawmakers. Instead, state agencies can adopt rules with “specific rulemaking authority” granted by the Legislature.

But Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is hoping lawmakers will write the new rules into law when they reconvene in January, said Abbott spokeswoman Ciara Matthews.

"Governor Abbott believes human and fetal remains should not be treated like medical waste, and the proposed rule changes affirms the value and dignity of all life," Matthews said in a statement. 

This story was produced by the Texas Tribune.

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