A Texas law requiring that aborted babies’ bodies be disposed in humane ways will not go into effect this week after a federal judge blocked the legislation Monday.
The law, which passed in June, helps to ensure that aborted babies’ bodies are not sold. It requires that abortion facilities, hospitals and other health clinics bury or cremate the remains of aborted and miscarried babies. Planned Parenthood and other abortion advocacy groups lobbied against the bill, but the legislature passed it with strong support.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge David Ezra temporarily blocked the state from implementing the law, which was supposed to take effect Thursday, according to the Dallas Observer. His order will stay in place until the lawsuit goes to trial.
Agreeing with the abortion chain Planned Parenthood, Ezra said the legislation likely would place “significant burdens on abortion access.”
“Evidence suggests the [state’s] purported interest — ‘express[ing] the state’s profound respect for the life of the unborn by providing for a dignified disposition of embryonic and fetal tissue remains’ — may be a pretext for restricting abortion,” Ezra wrote.
He also noted a lack of legal precedent on the issue.
“There is no precedent showing expressing respect for the unborn by restricting [fetal tissue] disposal after the potential for life no longer exists is a valid state interest,” Ezra wrote.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a strong advocate for unborn babies, said they are not giving up, despite the new setback.
“Texas values the dignity of the remains of the unborn and believes that fetal tissue should be disposed of properly and humanely,” Paxton said. “My office will continue to fight to uphold the constitutionality of the new law, which simply prevents fetal remains from being treated as medical waste.”
Last year, Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion chain in the United States, filed a lawsuit claiming the law threatens women’s health and restricts access to abortion. More specifically, it claims the cost of cremating or burying aborted babies creates an undue burden for women who want to abort their unborn babies.
However, Texas health department spokesperson Carrie Williams previously said their research indicates that the measure will not increase costs.
“While the methods described in the new rules may have a cost, that cost is expected to be offset by costs currently being spent by facilities on disposition for transportation, storage, incineration, steam disinfection and/or landfill disposal,” Williams said.
Last year, Texas also attempted to require a proper burial for aborted babies through rules set up by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. However, abortion activists also challenged those rules, and a judge later blocked them.
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Serious concerns about the treatment of human remains are a key motive behind the new law.
During a Texas health commission hearing in August 2016, supporters said the rules are necessary because abortion facilities treat unborn babies’ bodies like garbage and sometimes dump them down public sewer drains, Fox 7 reported. Texas state Rep. Mark Keough mentioned a gruesome case in 2005 when a woman who worked near a Houston abortion facility saw tiny aborted babies’ limbs and other body parts in a parking lot when a sewer line broke.
More states are moving to require dignified burials of aborted babies’ bodies after undercover videos revealed evidence that Planned Parenthood and other abortion facilities may be selling aborted babies’ body parts. The Center for Medical Progress videos prompted a number of states and the U.S. House and Senate to open investigations into the matter.
In December, news broke that the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating Planned Parenthood and other groups associated with the trafficking of aborted baby body parts.
In Ohio, the state attorney general’s investigation found that Planned Parenthood was “steam cooking” aborted babies’ bodies before dumping them in landfills. A state investigation in South Carolina also caught Planned Parenthood facilities illegally dumping aborted babies’ bodies in public landfills, and fined them for it.
Two biotech companies that worked with Planned Parenthood also are closing after they admitted liability for violating a ban on the sales of aborted baby body parts.