Federal Judge Again Delays Fetal Burial Rule
Anti-choice rule was to take effect Friday, Jan. 27
By Mary Tuma,
5:30PM, Fri. Jan. 27, 2017
In an order issued Friday afternoon, U.S. Judge Sam Sparks again put on hold a proposed health department rule that forces women to bury or cremate their fetus or embryo after an abortion or miscarriage, regardless of gestation period.
The short two-page order makes clear the state is not allowed to implement the rule, scheduled to take effect today, Jan. 27. The court will figure out a trial date in about a month. The full order can be read here.
During the hearing, abortion providers, represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, argued the rule imposes burdens on providers and patients, already saddled with the lasting impact of the state’s previous abortion restrictions. Local abortion provider Dr. Tad Davis of Austin Women’s Health Center called the rule “cruel,” and “emotionally traumatic” for his patients. The rule, providers contend, will only shame and stigmatize abortion-seeking women.
Moreover, clinics could identify only one cremation company willing to offer services at a reasonable rate, and as the past has shown them, that company could be targeted and threatened by anti-choice activists, leaving clinics in financial jeopardy.
The state argued the rule “no way regulates a woman’s right to choose” or places any type of burden, cost or otherwise, on clinics. But by the state’s own admission, the rule doesn’t advance public health, rather its mission is to promote “dignity” of the unborn.