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LA Times editorial: Texas should eliminate 'wrongheaded' fetal tissue disposal rules

Antiabortion-rights lawmakers at the state and federal level "have gone to unusual lengths since the Supreme Court's decision in Roe vs. Wade to deter women from exercising that particular constitutional right," but "a handful of states have taken the effort to a bizarre extreme," a Los Angeles Times editorial states, citing new rules in Texas requiring the cremation or burial of fetal remains.

According to the editorial, facilities in the state currently "dispose of fetal remains according to guidelines governing medical waste," which "typically means turning them over to a professional company that disposes of them in a sanitary landfill." However, the editorial explains that starting Dec. 19, "fetal remains from any abortion performed in a hospital or clinic in the state" will need to be "buried, entombed or cremated."

"[T]hese new rules are nothing more than a gambit on the part of conservative Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who sought the regulations to advance the state's anti-abortion agenda," the editorial states. "There are no health or safety reasons for the new requirements," the editorial adds, noting that the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has expressed support for current medical waste management and joined "dozens of medical organizations and abortion rights groups" denouncing the new rules.

The editorial states that while Texas "insists the new rules are not a burden," they represent "an unnecessary encumbrance on healthcare facilities and an affront to women who make a constitutionally guaranteed choice to have an abortion." Further, the editorial notes that similar regulations in Indiana and Louisiana are on hold "pending the outcome of court challenges."

According to the editorial, "These mandated burial rites … are part of an ongoing effort to convince the world that a fetus is a person, including measures purportedly aimed at minimizing fetal pain during abortions and declaring that fetuses have 'personhood' from the moment of conception." The editorial adds, "In other words, it's all part of an effort to overturn abortion rights."

Calling the rules "an attempt to disrespect women who choose to have abortions -- or even those women who miscarried fetuses," the editorial concludes, "These are wrongheaded rules that should be disposed of" (Los Angeles Times, 12/2).