The Biggest Hurdle for Texas’ Fetal Burial Rule Is Another Texas Abortion Case

The state health agency adopting the rule has received thousands of letters and criticism from medical professionals, who argue the rule is unnecessary. Funeral directors are also concerned about the new rule.

By Ashley LopezDecember 7, 2016 10:07 am| , , ,

From KUT. Texas Standard also spoke with a concerned funeral director about the new rule.  

This past summer, the Supreme Court drew a line in the sand for how far states can go in regulating legal abortions. It was a Texas case, actually: Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt. It was a legal challenge to House Bill 2 , a sweeping abortion law from 2013.

However, just days after that ruling and parts of the law were struck down, Texas lawmakers got to work creating new regulations. This time they didn’t pass a law, creating an agency rule requiring medical providers cremate or bury fetal remains.

“The fact that it only took them four days to issue it – and the fact that it was it was issued along with a letter from the governor insulting our clients, using inflammatory religious language, calling them ‘soulless’ and so forth – demonstrates that all this is an attempt by the government of Texas to make an end run around the Supreme Court and women’s constitutional rights,” said David Brown, an attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights.

That language was used in one of Gov. Greg Abbott’s fundraising emails, actually. In the same email, Abbott defended the rule with what’s become the main argument in favor it.

The email read, Abbott “doesn’t believe human and fetal remains should be treated like medical waste and disposed of in landfills.”

And, with that, the state began moving forward with this new rule.

The state health agency adopting the rule has received thousands of letters and criticism from medical professionals, who argue the rule is unnecessary. As an attorney, Brown says it’s a bad legal move, too.

Read more of the KUT story here.

The Standard spoke with Heather Edwards Hyboldt. She runs a funeral home in Victoria and is president of the Texas Funeral Directors Association. She says the funeral directors association has not taken a formal position on the new regulations for fetal remains. They association isn’t for or against the overall topic, but Hyboldt says they do have serious concerns about how the rule will affect people in the funeral industry and their clients.

“It’s such a delicate situation to start with,” Hyboldt says. “I mean, anybody who loses a child –or even someone who chooses to abort a child – it’s an emotional, delicate situation and this, to me, just adds another dimension to that difficulty.”

What you’ll hear in this interview:

– Current funeral home practices for women who have had abortions or miscarriages

– Why funeral homes may have to change their current practices under this new rule