Today, a federal judge granted a temporary restraining order preventing Texas’s rule requiring the cremation or burial of fetal tissue from going into effect.
In a hearing that the Houston Chronicle described as “sometimes testy,” U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks granted The Center for Reproductive Rights’s request to block the rule from going into effect on December 19. The rule, introduced by Texas health officials at the request of Governor Greg Abbott, prevented hospitals and health care facilities from disposing of fetal tissue in sanitary landfills, regardless of gestational length or parental wishes. It was a pet project of Abbott who, in an email to supporters, argued that fetal tissue shouldn’t be “treated like medical waste.”
The rule was rather stealthily adopted in November despite objections from women’s health advocates and hospitals. Last week, the Center for Reproductive Rights, representing a number of Texas abortion providers, filed a lawsuit against John Hellerstedt, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services. In the brief, CRR argued that the requirement was unconstitutional and imposed a “funeral ritual on women who have a miscarriage management procedure, ectopic pregnancy surgery, or an abortion.”
The Chronicle reports that the parties will return to court on January 3 and the judge will decide before January 6 whether or not the law will go into effect.