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Texas hearings begin on humane disposal of fetal remains

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Pro-lifers and abortion advocates testified Thursday for and against Texas’s recent proposal that abortion facilities must bury or cremate the babies they abort.

As Live Action News covered last month, Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott instructed the state’s Health and Human Services Commission to propose regulations requiring humane disposal of fetal remains. Texas agencies may adopt some rules without legislation, though Abbott expressed hope the legislature would formally codify the rule, which could take effect in September.

During the Department of State Health Services hearing, opponent of the rule Rachel Baker-Ford argued, “The decision not to have an abortion is not one to be made by politicians.” However, the proposed rule is strictly about what happens after the abortion, and in no way restricts abortion itself.

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Houston Coalition for Life’s Christine Melchor made that point, stating, “Disposing of these babies in a way that is not humane is wrong. This has nothing to do with so called women’s reproductive health.” Opponents argue that requiring such disposal “will make abortions more expensive” and is therefore an attempt to regulate abortion.

Republican State Rep. Mark Keough cited a 2005 incident that he argues necessitates the rule: “A woman, working near an abortion facility in Houston, observed tiny baby limbs and other body parts in a parking lot after a sewer break.”

While abortion advocates claim that improper disposal does not occur because “clinics typically contract with medical waste disposal companies to handle the tissue,” similar incidents have occurred in Michigan, Ohio, and South Carolina.

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