This week in Austin’s federal courthouse, a challenge is being heard to a new Texas law that plaintiffs say is arbitrary, traumatizing and designed to shame women who are seeking an abortion. Senate Bill 8, passed in 2017, requires that the remains of an abortion or miscarriage be treated like those of a person who has died – given funeral rites.
Andrea Zelinski is covering the trial for the Houston Chronicle says that fetal remains must be transported to a facility that prepares bodies for funeral rites – sanitized and then prepared for cremation or burial.
“This isn’t just for abortions,” Zelinski says. “This is for miscarriages, for ectopic pregnancies as well.”
Zelinski says those who support the law do so on the grounds that fetal remains deserve dignity.
This case marks the second time the substance of SB 8 has been in court, Zelinski says. In 2016, abortion clinics argued that complying with what was then a state administrative rule, rather than a law requiring fetal remains be given funeral rites, was too costly for providers, who were required to pay. Now, their argument is that “this shames women, that this will make it more difficult for women to get abortions, because this will stigmatize this procedure,” Zelinski says.
Zelinski says that under the current law, an abortion clinic or other medical provider who does not treat fetal remains in the prescribed manner faces a fine and potential loss of their license.
She says the provider must control the remains throughout the process.
“The abortion provider or the hospital, way up in the front of this process, is going to have to make sure that all of those different organizations… follow through, all the way down to the end,” she says.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.