Texas to require health-care facilities to cremate or bury aborted fetuses

Health care facilities in Texas offering abortion services will soon be required to bury or cremate fetal remains, according to new regulations approved this week.

Under the rules, filed with the secretary of state’s office on Monday, hospitals, abortion clinics and other health-care facilities are prohibited from disposing of fetal tissue in sanitary landfills like other medical waste. Instead they are required to cremate and bury the remains, no matter what the stage of development.

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Reproductive rights advocates have told ABC News that the new rules will likely deter women from getting an abortion and will increase health-care costs dramatically, as the health-care facilities pass on higher costs of disposing of fetal tissue.

“This regulation is another blatant attempt to deceive and shame Texas women and block access to safe, legal abortion,” Yvonne Gutierrez, executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes said in a statement to ABC News.

“Texas politicians are intent on interfering with it. These restrictions do not protect people’s health and safety — just the opposite.”

The rules will not apply to women having miscarriages or abortions at home.

Proposed at the direction of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, the state’s Department of Health and Human Services drafted the rules.

“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,” Ciara Matthews, spokesperson for the Texas governor’s office told Global News in a statement.

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“For the unborn, the mothers and the hospital and clinic staff, the governor believes it is imperative to establish higher standards that reflect our respect for the sanctity of life.”

Several other states have tried implementing similar regulations. Planned Parenthood and other groups filed lawsuits Wednesday in North Carolina, Missouri and Alaska challenging laws that they view as unconstitutional restrictions on abortion.

In Missouri for example, the regulation of requiring abortion clinics to meet physical standards for surgical centres and mandate that their doctors have admitting privileges in nearby hospitals, is being challenged.

Partly as a result of this, only one licensed abortion clinic remains in operation in Missouri.

The lawsuits were announced as supporters of abortion rights brace for renewed anti-abortion efforts at the state and federal level in the aftermath of the sweeping Republican victories on Election Day.

Requiring the cremation or burial of fetal remains in Texas is scheduled to take on Dec. 19.

— Will files from David Crary, The Associated Press.

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