Judge Strikes Down Texas Law Requiring Proper Burial for Aborted Babies

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Sep 5, 2018   |   5:34PM   |   Austin, TX

A federal judge struck down a Texas abortion regulation Wednesday that requires a proper burial for aborted babies’ bodies.

U.S. District Judge David Ezra threw out part of state Senate Bill 8 that required abortion facilities to dispose of aborted babies’ bodies in a dignified manner through either burial or cremation.

The law, which passed in 2017, mandates that any fetal remains, whether from abortion, miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, have to be buried or cremated by the medical or abortion facility; there are exceptions for miscarriages or abortions that occur at home.

Texas Right to Life described Ezra’s ruling as “convoluted.” The pro-life group said Ezra argued that the state has a legitimate interest in protecting unborn babies but that interest is not substantial enough to outweigh the alleged burden on the abortion industry.

“District judges created a well-established pattern of striking down pro-life provisions, forcing Texas to turn to the appeals court for fairer treatment of Texas’ state interest in protecting and promoting fetal life,” the pro-life group said in a statement.

Abortion activists challenged the law, arguing that it creates an undue burden on women’s access to abortion. According to the Texas Alliance for Life, Ezra agreed that the law violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment.

“We understand that the Supreme Court prevents Texas from making abortion substantially more difficult to obtain before viability, and this law does not do that,” said Joe Pojman Ph.D., Texas Alliance for Life executive director. “This law merely requires that the dignity of the unborn child is recognized after abortion and that their remains are not treated as medical waste.”

Both pro-life organizations thanked state Attorney General Ken Paxton and his legal team for defending the law and other pro-life legislation that would protect unborn babies’ lives.

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Earlier this summer, in relation to the case, the abortion industry went after Catholic bishops who offered to bury the remains of aborted babies for free. However, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked a ruling that would have forced the Texas bishops to hand over private emails and other communications as part of a lawsuit between the abortion business Whole Woman’s Health and the state.

In 2016, 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.

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.

The law would help to ensure that abortion businesses are not selling aborted babies’ bodies for 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 and Senate to open investigations into the matter.