AUSTIN, Texas – Recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings have struck down several anti-abortion restrictions, but advocates for women’s reproductive rights say some states, including Texas, still have onerous regulations on the books.
Last week, lawsuits were filed in Alaska, Missouri and North Carolina challenging laws that impose abortion restrictions.
And Texas may soon be on the list, over new regulations about the disposal of fetal tissue.
Yvonne Gutierrez, director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, says the requirement that a fetus be given a funeral is another roadblock for women.
“This is clearly another attempt to deceive and shame Texas women and block access to safe, legal abortion,” she states. “And these restrictions, as we know, do not protect people’s health and safety – just the opposite, in fact.”
The controversial rule, finalized last week by Texas regulators, will require that tissue from terminating a pregnancy either be cremated or buried by a licensed funeral facility.
Gutierrez says the rule could add hundreds or thousands of dollars to an abortion, costs many women can’t afford.
Backers have said the rule preserves “the dignity of the fetus.”
Gutierrez says groups, including Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights, are considering litigation to block the rule after it goes into effect Dec. 19.
“The Health and Human Services Department released this rule, and so, we are doing everything in our power to protect access to care, evaluating all of our options as they relate to any litigation,” she stresses.
While conservative lawmakers may view such regulations as political moves, Gutierrez says the rules do affect real people.
“These political attacks have very real, very devastating consequences,” she states. “Texas is fast becoming the cautionary tale for the rest of the nation.
“In recent years, Texas has cut funds for women’s health, and during that period, maternal mortality has doubled in the state.”
Gutierrez also says she fears women’s rights will be at risk in general with a Republican-controlled Congress and President-elect Donald Trump in the White House.
Mark Richardson, Public News Service (TX)