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Texas' Fetal Burial Rule Delayed Until 2017


  • Rena Schild /
A lawsuit has stalled Texas' newest anti-abortion tool, a rule forcing health clinics to cremate and bury the remains of every abortion or miscarriage.

Earlier this week, Center for Reproductive Rights lawyers filed a lawsuit against the state for passing this rule, which was meant to go into effect December 19, saying it abused the constitutional rights of Texas women. Thursday afternoon, a federal judge issued a restraining order to put the rule on hold until 2017.

According to CRR, federal district court Judge Sam Sparks scheduled a preliminary injunction hearing for the lawsuit on January 3 — and he'll likely rule on the matter by January 6.

“We look forward to demonstrating that these regulations are unwise, unjustified and unconstitutional, and should be permanently struck down," said David Brown, staff attorney with CRR.

In its case, CRR lawyers argue that the "fetal burial rule" goes directly against the U.S. Supreme Court's June decision on HB2, the sweeping Texas anti-abortion law. The justices' ruling banned states from imposing burdensome restrictions on abortion access without providing any legitimate, medical benefit — something the state health department has yet to cough up.

Amy Hagstrom Miller, director of Whole Woman's Health — the plaintiff in the Supreme Court decision — sounded hopeful after leaving the Thursday hearing in Austin.

"Judge Sparks expressed skepticism about the new rules being about the health and safety of women, and felt like it was a reaction from our victory at the Supreme Court," Miller said a statement.

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