Pro-lifers and abortion activists in Texas will be head-to-head once again Monday in a trial to retain a law requiring proper burial for aborted babies.
According to KeraNews, U.S. District Judge Alan Ezra called the trial “a tough case for everyone” during a pretrial hearing last Friday.
The trial, which begins this week, revolves around state Senate Bill 8, which requires the cremation or burial of fetal remains. The law, which passed in Texas in 2017, mandates that any fetal remains, whether from abortion, miscarriages, or ectopic pregnancies, have to be buried or cremated by the health care facility; there are exceptions for miscarriages or abortions that occur at home.
Supporters of the law said the burials are a means to bring human dignity to the fetuses. John Seago, the legislative director for the Texas Right to Life, stated that SB8 is “important to the state’s ethic” when it comes to abortion issues. He said the law acknowledges that the “victims of abortion deserve dignity.”
Fox 7 News in Austin reported, before the passage of SB8, unborn babies were “treated just like garbage.” During the passage of SB8, state attorneys argued that the law would give aborted babies’ bodies a better resting place than a landfill.
Furthermore, the passage of SB8 came about in light of the undercover videos exposing Planned Parenthood and its potentially illegal handling of aborted baby body parts. This law ensures that criminal activity, like the sale of baby body parts, is avoided.
Abortion activists and opponents to Senate Bill 8, however, insist that the law would only make abortions more expensive and more inaccessible for low-income women. The pro-abortion groups that filed the lawsuit are the Center for Reproductive Rights and Whole Woman’s Health, a Texas-based abortion chain.
State attorneys disputed the claim regarding cost, saying that patients wouldn’t have to pay, and costs would be minimal for abortion providers. According to the Houston Chronicle, a registry had been made of participating groups that have offered to provide free or low-cost burials. The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops also has been under fire in recent months for offering free burials for aborted babies.
Here’s more from the report:
Throughout Friday’s pretrial hearing, Ezra laid out for attorneys what was on the court’s mind about the case, including: if women may face an undue burden if there aren’t enough providers or facilities statewide; the logistics of how doctors and clinics would deal with the law if it went into effect; and if Texas has enough facilities available statewide to help dispose of the fetal remains.
“I have to deal with this as a law in Texas that will affect every woman in the state of Texas,” Ezra said.
The law has had a rocky history of implementation in Texas. In January, Ezra granted an injunction blocking a state fetal remains burial rule. U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks struck down a similar rule to SB8 that had been implemented by the Texas Department of State Health Services in January 2017.
Despite granting an injunction this past year, Ezra said that is no indication of how he would rule in this week’s five-day trial.
This case is particularly relevant, with President Donald Trump’s recent Supreme Court nomination, Brett Kavanaugh. The nomination could impact pro-life laws like SB8 in the future, but Ezra said he would “proceed today on what the law is today.”