Come Dec. 19, Texas clinics and women’s health centers will be required to cremate or bury fetal remains from abortions or miscarriages, according to The Texas Tribune. Remains have historically been disposed of in sanitary landfills, where other medical waste is also discarded.
The law was initially proposed in July, and drew criticism for coming without any kind of announcement or discussion publicly beforehand. After the proposal was made public on the Texas Register, citizens were allowed to submit comments for 30 days.
Reproductive rights advocates are against the ruling for a number of reasons, including the huge cost of burial and cremation, as well as the government interference in other people's health decisions. In a hearing in August on the ruling, one woman who had an abortion after being raped said “that if she had been forced to bury the fetus it would have ‘essentially been the state of Texas rubbing my face in my own rape,’” according to The Washington Post.
To force people to make this decision adds to the trauma they might already experience because of a miscarriage or abortion. It's not necessary, and should be a choice for the person going through the miscarriage or abortion.
Proponents in favor of the law claim that it “reflects the state’s efforts to affirm the ‘highest standards of human dignity.’” This issue has been framed as one of public health, and supporters of the cremation or burial requirement argue that this is the best way to ensure proper, safe disposal of fetal remains.
These arguments have not been backed up with any kind of evidence, though, leading organizations like Planned Parenthood to question the state legislature’s true motivation for viewing fetal remains unlike other medical waste. Landfill disposal is barred in the cases of fetal tissue, but is allowed “for other body parts or organs,”Dallas Newsreports.
In late October, protesters led by NARAL Pro-Choice Texas expressed their opposition to the ruling outside the Department of State Health Services. They formed a petition that received over 5,500 signatures and delivered it to the department.