TEXAS — New laws in Texas will require health care facilities that perform abortions to bury or cremate fetal remains instead of disposing of them in a sanitary landfill like other forms of biological medical waste, according to a report by the New York Times .
The laws which will go into effect on Dec. 19 mandate that aborted fetal tissue must be buried regardless of how long it has been gestating. The tissue can either be buried directly after an abortion has been performed or it can be buried or scattered after the tissue has been incinerated, according to the Times report. Fetal remains can also be steam disinfected before burial, according to the new law.
The new guidelines require aborted tissue to be handled like a deceased person. This means it must be treated “using the process of cremation, entombment, burial or placement in a niche or by using the process of cremation followed by placement of the ashes in a niche, grave, or scattering of ashes as authorized by law.”
Costs of fetal burial or cremation are expected to be offset by “costs currently being spent by facilities on disposition for transportation, storage, incineration, steam disinfection and/or landfill desposal,” according to a Department of State Health Services spokeswoman quoted by the Washington Post .
The spokeswoman said any costs associated with the law shouldn’t be a concern, while others in the medical and funeral industries have said burying and/or cremating fetal remains will cost abortion providers and hospitals several thousand dollars in each case.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott discreetly proposed in July the new law shortly after the Supreme Court struck down parts of a Texas law that could have sharply cut the number of abortion clinics in Texas, according to the Texas Tribune .
The law seems to apply to the disposal of both “spontaneous or induced” abortions, according to the Tribune . A similar measure was signed into law in Indiana but was later blocked by a federal judge.
Spontaneous abortion is another term for miscarriage.
Abbott sent his proposal in a fundraising email to supporters and said he believed the new law would help protect “the rights of the unborn” and “turn the tides” against abortions performed in Texas.
“I believe it is imperative to establish higher standards that reflect our respect for the sanctity of life,” Abbott’s email said. “This is why Texas will require clinics and hospitals to bury or cremate human and fetal remains.”
“I don’t believe human and fetal remains should be treated like medical waste and disposed of in landfills,” Abbott wrote.
The law apparently won’t require women who have abortions or miscarriages at home to transport the fetus to be buried or cremated.
Abortion rights activists have said the “pointless and insulting” laws are a “thinly veiled attempt to shame Texans who have abortions and make it harder for the doctors who provide them.”