Members of the Texas House heard testimony yesterday on legislation that would require medical facilities to cremate or bury fetal remains after an abortion or miscarriage.
Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, is the sponsor of House Bill 35. He argued the bill wasn’t about abortion, but what he calls the dignity of the deceased.
However, opponents say that the choice to bury or cremate fetal tissue is already available – and that if the bill is passed, women would be forced into a scenario that could violate their religious beliefs.
Deputy First Assistant Attorney General Brantley Starr testified about religious concerns. “There are some Catholic hospitals that currently follow the protocol that HB 35 would set out, and so we believe it’s within the constitutional prerogative of this body to make that rule applicable to all hospitals,” Starr said. “I think one thing that Chairman Cook touched on earlier is this bill doesn’t regulate the woman, it regulates the actual facilities. And so we haven’t seen a facility make a religious objection.”
Dr. Kimberly Carter, an obstetrician-gynecologist with the Texas Medical Association, told the house committee that while some patients might find a burial comforting, “other patients find it very offensive.” Citing ectopic pregnancies or molar pregnancies that can metastasize,” Carter said patients might find it “offensive that we can bury something that almost ended their life.”
A similar rule from Texas’ health department requiring fetal burial or cremation has been put on hold by a judge, pending a federal trial.
The House State Affairs Committee adjourned without a vote on HB 35.