On July 1, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission quietly slipped a proposed rule into the Texas Register that would require fetal remains, whether as a result of an abortion or a miscarriage, to be buried or cremated instead of being disposed of in a sanitary landfill or incinerated.
Jim Bates, director of the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Texas, said in a letter of opposition submitted during a Thursday Department of State Health Services public hearing over the proposal that the average cost of basic funeral services is $2,000. "Therefore, the annual number of women — 48,000 of the 54,000 total abortions — whose abortions typically occur at 13 weeks, will then be forced to use the services of a funeral establishment and bring an additional $96 million in revenue to the Texas funeral business," Bates wrote.
However, the current proposal doesn't stipulate who exactly will pay for the services, but Bates expects the cost won't be covered by abortion clinics, or in the case of miscarriages, health care facilities. Instead, Bates thinks the cost will be forced onto women. "If a woman cannot or will not pay, there is a significant impact, by current practice and law, that county government will pay for the disposition of the fetus," Bates wrote.
Not only that, the proposal is cruel, Bates wrote. "The new rule appears to force the woman to reveal to family, friends and the community her very personal choice of abortion because it requires the woman to contract with a funeral establishment, or ask for family and friends' support with fetal disposition," Bates said. "This is a forced invasion of privacy with no apparent regard for the woman."
This proposal first surfaced four days after
the Supreme Court ruled that Texas' House Bill 2, which increased regulatory burdens on abortion clinics, causing many in the state to close, was unconstitutional. The Center for Reproductive Rights, which argued against House Bill 2, has called the nature of the fetal burial proposal, which could take effect in September, a political maneuver that seeks to undermine women's rights that will likely result in more costly litigation for the state.
According to the Center, the state spent over $1 million fighting the challenge to House Bill 2. And in a recent letter sent to state health officials, the Center said the state will most certainly spend more taxpayer dollars if the fetal burial rule takes effect. “Texas politicians are at it again, inserting their personal beliefs into the health care decisions of Texas women,” Stephanie Toti, senior counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a press release. “The Center for Reproductive Rights is prepared to take further legal action to ensure that Texas women can continue to access abortion and other reproductive healthcare without interference by politicians.”
A funeral services consumer advocacy group says a state proposal to require the cremation or burial of aborted fetuses could mean an approximate $2,000 increase to the cost of an abortion.