A federal judge on Thursday temporarily blocked a Texas regulation requiring that fetal tissue be cremated or buried, opening up what is sure to be another ugly legal battle over how much the state can get away with when it comes to regulating abortion access into virtual nonexistence.
The new rules, which were slated to go into effect on Monday, would have required clinics and hospitals to absorb the costs of burial or cremation of a pregnancy terminated at any stage. Beyond the grotesque intrusion that is forcing funereal services on people who terminate their pregnancies, the fetal burial rules would dramatically increase the costs of the procedure, according to an estimate from Planned Parenthood.
And so the Center for Reproductive Rights brought a legal challenge on these and other grounds.
Like HB 2, the Regulation burdens women seeking pregnancy-related medical care. It imposes a funeral ritual on women who have a miscarriage management procedure, ectopic pregnancy surgery, or an abortion. Further, it threatens women’s health and safety by providing no safe harbor for sending tissue to pathology or crime labs.
It also forces healthcare providers to work with an extremely limited number of third-party vendors for burial or scattering ashes, threatening abortion clinics’ provision of care and their long-term ability to remain open, as well as cost increases for women seeking pregnancy-related medical care.
In response, a federal judge granted a temporary restraining order blocking the rules. After hearing additional testimony next month, he will decide if the regulation, which has been criticized by reproductive health providers and funeral directors in the state, can stand.
"We look forward to demonstrating that these regulations are unwise, unjustified and unconstitutional, and should be permanently struck down," David Brown, senior staff attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement on Thursday.
The state of Texas will undoubtedly go to the mat to argue the opposite. After all, they've been here before.