Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office defended a law Thursday that requires a dignified burial for aborted babies.
Arguing before a panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, assistant solicitor general Beth Klusmann said Texas has an interest in “respecting the dignity of unborn life,” the AP reports.
The law, which passed in 2017, requires that any fetal remains, whether from an abortion, miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, have to be buried or cremated by the medical or abortion facility. It allows exceptions for miscarriages or abortions that occur at home.
The Planned Parenthood abortion chain challenged the law, claiming it would create an undue burden on women’s access to abortion; and a federal judge blocked it in 2018. The state appealed that ruling to the Fifth Circuit.
“Treating embryos and fetuses as medical waste … is the literal definition of devaluing them,” Klusmann told the court.
She also said Planned Parenthood has not been able to prove that its facilities cannot comply with the law, according to the report.
Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion chain in the United States, claims the law would make it harder for women to abort their unborn babies. More specifically, it claims the cost of cremating or burying the aborted babies would create an undue burden on women’s access to abortion.
Texas has some hope of success after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed Indiana to enforce a similar law in May. The high court recognized that states have a legitimate interest in regulating the disposal of aborted babies bodies.
Here’s more from the report:
But opponents of the Texas law note the Indiana ruling did not address the issue of whether the law created an unconstitutional burden on abortion rights. …
The case was heard by the 5th Circuit’s chief judge, Carl Stewart, a nominee of President Bill Clinton; Judge Rhesa Barksdale, nominated to the court by President George H.W. Bush; and Judge Gregg Costa, nominated by President Barack Obama.
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Costa questioned both sides about whether it might be best to put off a decision until after the Supreme Court rules in the Louisiana case, June Medical Services v. Gee. The case involves that state’s currently blocked requirement that says abortion providers must have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.
Pro-life leaders in Texas previously praised the attorney general’s office for defending the law.
Texas Right to Life described the lower court ruling as “convoluted.” The pro-life group said U.S. District Judge David 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.
Joe Pojman Ph.D., the Texas Alliance for Life executive director, said the law is one way they hope to restore dignity to the unborn child.
“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,” Pojman said. “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.”
In 2018, in relation to the case, the abortion industry went after Texas 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 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 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 also 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 illegally 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.