by Kelvey Vander Hart
A federal judge in Texas has struck down a law that required the burial or cremation of fetal remains — including the remains of those who had been aborted.
Passed in 2017, Senate Bill 8 required healthcare centers to arrange for the burial or cremation of all deceased babies, whether from “abortion, miscarriage, stillbirth, or treatments for ectopic pregnancy.” The law was overturned on Wednesday by U.S. District Judge David Alan Ezra.
“The implementation of this law, as I have pointed out, would cause and, if allowed to go into effect, would be a violation of a woman’s right to obtain a legal abortion under the law as it stands today,” Ezra stated.
Ezra had granted a temporary injunction against the bill in January, blocking it from going into effect in February. This injunction came after the state of Texas was sued by Center for Reproductive Rights and Whole Woman’s Health.
The legislature pushed through this bill in reaction to public outcry after U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks had struck down a very similar rule implemented by the Texas Department of State Health Services, arguing that it placed an “undue burden” on women.
Pro-life activists had pushed for Senate Bill 8 in order to preserve the dignity of human life, no matter how young. Legal counsel for the state also explained that having such language to designate the destination for fetal remains would secure a better final location than a landfill.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office was disappointed by the news of SB 8 being struck down. “I remain confident the courts will ultimately uphold the Texas law, which honors the dignity of the unborn and prevents fetal remains from being treated as medical waste,” he stated.
However, while pro-lifers mourn the court’s decision, advocates of abortion are rejoicing. Founder and president of Whole Woman’s Health and Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, Amy Hagstrom Miller, even went so far as to call the ruling “a victory for all Texan women.”
“Make no mistake, these restrictions were designed to shame and stigmatize patients and health care providers,” stated Hagstrom Miller. “This decision reaffirms that Texan women are fully capable of making their own personal medical decisions about their families, futures, and reproductive health care.”
However, Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life, thinks that Hagstrom Miller’s response is ludicrous. “Absolutely not true,” he countered. “If the law were to go into effect, abortion would remain regularly available.”