A Texas judge extended a temporary block Wednesday on a new state rule requiring that aborted babies’ bodies be cremated or buried, the High Plains Public Radio reports.
U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks temporarily blocked the rule in December while he considered a lawsuit challenging it. On Wednesday after hearing arguments for and against the rule, Sparks delayed giving a final ruling and extended his block on the enforcement of the rule until Jan. 27, the Houston Chronicle reports.
The new rule, introduced in July by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, requires that abortion facilities, hospitals and other medical centers either cremate or bury the remains of aborted and miscarried babies. State officials said the rule does not apply to miscarriages or abortions that take place at home.
The New York-based pro-abortion group Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit challenging the rule in December, claiming it does not benefit the public and is unconstitutional. It also argued the rule would increase costs for abortion facilities.
Sparks delayed giving a final ruling, but his comments this week indicated that he may permanently block the measure. According to local news reports, Sparks described the rule as “political” and lacking “any benefit.”
Here’s more from the radio station:
Sparks said the new rule lacked any real health benefit, after hearing two days of testimony about the potential costs, ramifications and logistics that would be involved in implementing it.
He also expressed concern about whether access to abortion would be hindered by the rule.
… Testimony this week shed some light on what the rule would entail. To handle the tissue, abortion providers, health centers and laboratories would likely need to buy additional freezers to store the remains for weeks or months before the tissue could be transported to a crematorium or cemetery.
The executive director of the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops said its 15 dioceses across the state are willing to provide cemetery space and burials for fetal remains in wooden boxes, possibly stacked atop each other, in unmarked graves.
The services would be provided free of charge, executive director Jennifer Carr Allmon said, but health clinics would be responsible for transporting the remains to the cemetery or funeral home.
One of the issues abortion activists claim creates an undue burden is the cost of cremating or burying the aborted babies.
However, Texas health department spokesperson Carrie Williams previously said their research indicates that the rule 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.
Serious concerns about the treatment of human remains are a key motive behind the new rules.
During a commission hearing in August, 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.
Currently, abortion facilities can dispose of aborted babies’ bodies in landfills or give them to research groups. Though it is illegal, there is a possibility that abortion facilities also could be selling them for a profit.
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 to open investigations into the matter.
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.
In the past few weeks, abortion activists have been protesting the new Texas rule in dangerous and disgusting ways. A Satanist leader recently urged people to send semen-soaked socks and rags to pro-life Gov. Greg Abbott’s office to protest the new rule. A Texas abortion clinic worker named Ele Chupik also encouraged women to protest by sending bloody tampons to the governor.
Satanist Jex Blackmore warned abortion supporters that sending bodily fluids through the postal service “may get you in trouble, so do this at your own risk.”