A new Texas regulation has imposed another burden on women seeking abortions: medical providers must bury their fetus as if it were a real person.
On Monday, the state’s Health and Human Services Commission finalized rules approved by Governor Greg Abbott requiring that all fetuses must be either buried or cremated.
Furthermore, Texas health agencies will no longer allow health care facilities to dispose of fetal remains in sanitary landfills. Instead, medical providers must treat a woman’s aborted fetus as a person, regardless of how long she had been pregnant.
The new rules will take effect on December 19. Calling it a “proper disposition” for the fetus, these rules do not apply for miscarriages or home-abortions. Texas will not also not require birth or death certificates.
In response, medical providers — including the Texas Medical Association and the Texas Hospital Association, according to the Texas Tribune — are warning that the costs associated with cremation or burial could reach several thousand dollars for each patient.
However, according to Texas health officials, these costs would be “offset by the elimination of some current methods of disposition,” further writing that the rules “carry out the department’s duty to protect public health in a manner that’s consonant with the state’s respect for life and dignity of the unborn.”
That said, more pregnant women die from medical complications in Texas than in most industrialized nations around the world largely thanks to laws like these. According to the medical journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, the rate of maternal mortality in Texas jumped from 18.6 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2010, to more than 30 per 100,000 in 2014.
For reference, this means that a woman is more likely to survive pregnancy in countries such as Turkey or Chile than in Texas, according to the World Health Organization.
“The state agency has once again ignored the concerns of the medical community and thousands of Texans by playing politics with people’s private healthcare decisions,” said Heather Busby, the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, in a statement.
Worse yet is that African-American women are disproportionately affected. Black women account for a tenth of all births, but make up a third of all maternal deaths. For comparison, Hispanic women account for roughly half of all births, and account for a similar number of maternal deaths, according to a Texas report.
“These new restrictions reveal the callous indifference that Texas politicians have toward women,” said David Brown, a senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, adding that the proposal “will almost certainly trigger costly litigation,” and that the rule was “an unnecessary burden and an intrusion” on a woman’s “personal beliefs.”
Texas’ Republican lawmakers are reportedly eager to officially write these new policies — enacted for now with the governor’s executive power — into statute when the state legislature meets in January.
Next, read about how Pope Francis has given priests new powers to forgive abortions, before learning about the Oklahoma bill that would make abortion equivalent to first-degree murder.