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Texas health officials propose fetal tissue regulations

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) proposed new rules that would require fetal tissue resulting from an abortion be cremated or buried, the Texas Tribune reports.

Abortion providers in the state currently contract with third-party special waste services to dispose of fetal tissue (Ura, Texas Tribune, 7/6). The proposed regulations on abortion providers come shortly after the Supreme Court struck down provisions of the state's omnibus antiabortion-rights law (HB 2) (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/5).

Next steps

Texas officials published the proposed rules in the Texas Register on July 1 without an announcement and minimal other notification, the Tribune reports.

The rules are open to a 30-day public comment period. HHSC spokesperson Bryan Black said final rules are expected by September.

According to the Tribune, the proposed rules do not necessarily require approval from state lawmakers because they were not included in legislation. The Texas Legislature has granted state agencies "specific rulemaking authority," which permits them to implement rules without legislative approval.

Nonetheless, Ciara Matthews, a spokesperson for Gov. Greg Abbott (R), said the governor wants the rules to be included in future legislative language (Texas Tribune, 7/6).