Health

Federal Judge Blocks Texas Bill Requiring Fetus Burials

| by Ray Brown

A federal judge struck down a Texas rule that would require fetal remains be buried after abortion procedures.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks issued a temporary restraining order that will prevent the Texas Department of State Health Services from enforcing the controversial rule, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The rule was lauded by anti-abortion activists, but pro-choice advocates argued it was unconstitutional and created an unnecessary burden on women who want control over their bodies.

"I think the rule is intended to send a message to the Supreme Court that Texas is going to defy them and it's to send a message to women that the state's ideology is more important than women's liberty," said David Brown, senior staff attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, which sued the state to block the rule, according to the Houston Chronicle.

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After Sparks issued the temporary restraining order, he scheduled two days of testimony for January, 2017, reported the Associated Press. A final decision on whether the rule should be enforced or repealed is expected to be made by Jan. 6.

"We look forward to demonstrating that these regulations are unwise, unjustified and unconstitutional, and should be permanently struck down," Brown said in a statement.

When the rule was being considered by the Texas legislature, debate was fierce as more than 35,000 public comments poured in.

But Republican-controlled legislature passed the rule with the strong backing of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas.

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“I believe it is imperative to establish higher standards that reflect our respect for the sanctity of life,” Abbott told the Texas Tribune in an email. “This is why Texas will require clinics and hospitals to bury or cremate human and fetal remains.”

Sources: Associated Press, Texas Tribune (2), Houston Chronicle/ Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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