Controversial Texas fetal tissue rules go into effect Dec. 19th

The Texas Department of State Health Services said two public hearings and 35,000 comments were taken into consideration as they finalized the latest abortion rules in the state that would forbid hospitals and abortion clinics to dispose of fetal remains in landfills. Those remains will have to be cremated or buried.

Heather Busby with NARAL Pro-Choice Texas says they're disappointed the state has gone through with this.

"It's clear that Texas is going to do everything they can to unconstitutionally restrict access to abortion.  And that harms the people in this state who need access to that healthcare," Busby said.

The State Health Services Department disagrees with the notion that the rules are meant to shame or punish women trying to get an abortion. Joe Pojman with Texas Alliance for Life helped fight for the changes.

"The legislature cannot protect that baby and the mother from abortion but at least the legislature can require that the remains can be treated in a humane and dignified manner," Pojman said.

The department filed the final fetal tissue rules with the Secretary of State on Monday. They added language to make clear the rules don't apply to miscarriages or abortions that happen at home.

State Health Services expects the cost for health-care-related facilities to be minimal, even absorbable. They don't expect any change in access to abortion services.

"Obviously this regulation is going to effect access to safe and legal abortion care because it's going to make the costs astronomically increase for many patients.  And that's just a burden that is going to be very difficult to overcome.  It's another way to make abortion inaccessible," Busby said.

Even though the rules don't require a funeral for the fetus, Pojman wants to make sure patients know that is an option.

"We think women ought to know that they have the right to have a funeral for the remains of their child who dies from abortion.  That ought to be told to women by the abortion facilities.  Typically that's not happening now and I think that's doing a great dis-service to those women," Pojman said.

The rules will actually go into effect on December 19th. Pro-choice advocates say there will most likely be a lawsuit challenging the rules.

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