State Health Department Makes Fetal Tissue Rule Final

Anti-choice rule takes effect Dec. 19

Jennifer Sims, associate commissioner for DSHS, at a public hearing on proposed rules concerning special waste from health care related facilities on Nov. 9 (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Texas' Health and Human Services Commission finalized a rule Monday that would require women to bury or cremate fetal tissue after their abortion or miscarriage, rather than deposit them in sanitary sewers and medical-waste landfills. The rule, drafted in July, is set to take effect Dec. 19. Anti-abortion activists have praised it as a measure promoting "dignity" and "respect" for the unborn, without pointing to any evidence of the rule's medical necessity. Pro-choice advocates relayed their experiences with abortion and miscarriage, stressing that this rule would serve to shame abortion-seeking women in Texas, add financial barriers to abortion, and further restrict access. Nonpartisan medical organizations, the Texas Medical Association and the Texas Hospital Association, have questioned the rule and its cost burden. According to the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Texas, the rule could add $2,000 to abortion care costs. Since the state has refused to pick up any of that tab, the burden falls on providers and patients. See "State Health Department Makes Fetal Tissue Final" for more details.

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