Texas is Trying to Get Itself Sued Again Over Abortion Rights

Demonstrators protest Texas' anti-abortion HB 2 at the Supreme Court on March 2, 2016.
Demonstrators protest Texas' anti-abortion HB 2 at the Supreme Court on March 2, 2016.
Stephen Young

The group of lawyers that shepherded the plaintiffs through the case that eventually led to the Supreme Court toppling most of Texas' onerous anti-abortion law, House Bill 2, is readying itself to take on the state again. This time the fight is over Texas Governor Greg Abbott's under-the-radar call to require facilities that provide abortion care or miscarriage management to bury or cremate all embryonic or fetal tissue resulting from miscarriages or abortions.

"I believe that it is imperative to establish higher standards that reflect our respect for the sanctity of life," Abbott said in a July email to supporters. "That is why Texas will require clinics or hospitals to bury or cremate all human remains."

Lawyers at the Center for Reproductive Rights say that Abbott's proposed requirement, which would become effective in September after a currently ongoing public comment period, would burden women and facilities providing abortion without providing a commiserate benefit. It's a similar argument to the women made by Center for Reproductive Rights Senior Counsel Stephanie Toti when she argued against state requirements that required admitting privileges at local hospitals for doctors providing abortions and that abortion clinics be outfitted as surgical centers: Requiring the fetal remains be interred or burned does nothing to make abortion safer, it simply makes getting one more onerous.

"Texas politicians are at it again, inserting their personal beliefs into the health care decisions of Texas women,” Toti said in a statement issued Monday. "The Center for Reproductive Rights is prepared to take further legal action to ensure that Texas women can continue to access abortion and other reproductive health care without interference by politicians."

A similar Indiana requirement, signed into law by Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence, was struck down by a federal court in June. In that case, Indiana Planned Parenthood affiliates argued that their cost could go up two to four times if they were required to change the way they handled fetal remains.

A public hearing to discuss the new regulations is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.


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