Federal judge blocks Texas fetal tissue burial rule

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A federal judge on Friday issued a preliminary injunction blocking Texas from requiring fetal remains to be buried or cremated.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks issued the 24-page ruling several weeks after hearing testimony from both sides on the issue.

"Facing the threat of an unfavorable decision from the Supreme Court in Whole Woman 's Health, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) began plans for the next battle. Before the ink on the Supreme Court's opinion in Whole Woman's Health was dry, DSHS had already drafted amendments to Title 25 of the Texas Administrative Code § § 1.132-1.136 (the Amendments), modifiing the methods for disposal of fetal tissue," Sparks wrote.

Some abortion providers had sued the state over the revised regulations that four of the seven approved methods of disposal, claiming it violates a woman's constitutional rights and makes it harder for providers to perform abortions. The state argued it increases public health and treats the unborn with dignity.

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The methods of disposition the revision eliminates are grinding, chlorine disinfection and maceration, disposition in a sanitary sewer and disposition in a sanitary landfill.

The State argued the new rules treat fetal remains or tissue with dignity, while the plaintiffs (abortion providers) say the government is trying to force it's opinion and viewpoints on life and when it begins, along with burial or cremation practices, onto all women regardless of their individual beliefs; leaving the plaintiffs and supporters of the rules on opposite sides when it comes to the argument of dignity.

Amy Hagstrom Miller, founder and CEO of Whole Woman's Health, issued the following statement minutes after the ruling:

Today, Judge Sparks saw past the state's claims and ruled on the right side of history. This ruling allows Texans to have the dignity to continue to make their own private healthcare decisions. We knew from the beginning when overzealous Texas politicians tried to put forward new medically unnecessary rules that would require all women who have an abortion or receive treatment for a miscarriage at any healthcare facility to have to bury or cremate embryonic tissue. This restriction, just like the many before it, all across our nation, does not create any health benefit for women and is strictly designed to limit access to safe, quality abortion care.
Anti-abortion attacks cannot and will not slow us down. It is so important that our resiliency continues to blaze a path that people in all communities are empowered to stand up and continue to fight back against political interference that attempt to regulate our lives. We will not back down and are thrilled that, yet again today we were victorious for Texans.


Attorney General Ken Paxton's office also released a statement, vowing to appeal the ruling:

“Texas has chosen to dignify the life of the unborn by requiring the humane disposition of fetal remains. These rules would simply prevent health care facilities from disposing of the remains of the unborn in sewers or landfills. Today’s ruling, however, reaffirms that the abortion lobby has grown so extreme that it will reject any and every regulation no matter how sensible. Indeed, no longer content with merely ending the life of the unborn, the radical left now objects to even the humane treatment of fetal remains. Texas stands committed to honoring the dignity of the unborn and my office is proud to continue fighting for these new rules.”

This is a developing story. Please check back to KVUE.com for updates.

Judge Sparks' order granting injunction by kvuenews on Scribd