Five Untruths About the New Texas Rules for Fetal Remains

The state of Texas recently enacted a set of rules pertaining to the handling and disposing of fetal remains. The new rules require that healthcare facilities dispose of fetal remains by burial or cremation, and bans the facilities from disposing of the remains via industrial garbage disposals.

The rules, expected to be passed into law next year via House Bill 201, do not deal directly with abortion, but rather how the unborn babies are handled after the abortion is complete. The law also applies to babies who are miscarried in hospitals, but does not apply to abortions or miscarriages that happen at one’s residence.

Abortion advocates are almost always incensed when any judicial or administrative body so much as hints at encroaching on their sacred cow of abortion rights, and this situation has been no different. Advocates are particularly infuriated this time, unable to comprehend the gall shown by the state of Texas so shortly after most of the state’s omnibus abortion bill was struck down by the Supreme Court earlier this year.

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One writer at Vogue called the new measures chilling, while another from Bustle referred to them as Draconian. In the wake of these new measures, many pro-abortion writers have taken to the internet, penning pieces brimming with an alarming combination of dismay and vitriol. While teeming with emotion, many of the pieces are also full of untruths and speculative reasoning.

It’s important for us, as pro-life advocates, to be able to see through these untruths and speak honestly about issues related to unborn human life. With that in mind, here are some of the most common untruths being promoted about Texas’s proposed measure, which will go into effect on December 19th.

Untruth 1: Women now have to bury their fetuses.

This untruth can be found in a number of different places. From the aforementioned Vogue article:

This measure means that both women seeking abortions and those who very much want a child but suffer a miscarriage at a healthcare facility … must face the psychological torment of burying or cremating their embryos.

And from Motto, a branch of Time magazine:

Pro-abortion rights advocates are hoping to stop a Texas proposal that requires women who receive abortions or have miscarriages to bury or cremate the fetuses.

Truth: The law does not require the woman to bury or cremate the fetal remains. Here’s what the law really says, in Section 697.002:

A health care facility in this state that provides health or medical care to a pregnant woman shall dispose of any fetal remains related to that care, regardless of the period of gestation or weight of the fetus, by 1) internment, 2) cremation, 3) incineration followed by interment, or 4) steam disinfection followed by interment.

It’s extremely clear that the task of properly disposing of fetal remains falls to the health care facility, not to the woman.

Untruth 2: The rule requires funerals for fetuses.

From the aforementioned Bustle article:

Enter Texas’s new draconian abortion law, which will require people to have funerals for fetuses after abortions and, even worse, after miscarriages.

Truth: The law does not require funerals for aborted babies. The relevant portion of the law quoted above makes no mention of funerals or funeral rites. These types of hyperbolic claims serve only to confuse and anger persons on either side of this debate, while doing nothing to promote the reality of the situation.

Bonus truth: Many couples already choose to have funerals or burial ceremonies after miscarriages, and find them to be incredibly powerful and healing, serving as a sort of closure.

Untruth 3: The measures are designed to shame women who have abortions.

From Huffington Post:

Reproductive rights advocates said the bill has no medical purpose other than to shame a woman for ending her pregnancy.

And from an article at Think Progress:

And let’s be clear. Burial and cremation laws are only intended to shame women for their decision.

And last, from Salon:

The new law appears to be an unsubtle attempt to shame women who fail to bring a pregnancy to term, regardless of whether they wanted to terminate it or not.

Truth: This is purely speculative, and there is no evidence of it. While nobody really knows the motives of Governor Abbott, this highlights the general lack of understanding that abortion advocates have of the pro-life position. Here’s what Governor Abbott did say in a highly quoted memo earlier this year:

I believe it is imperative to establish higher standards that reflect our respect for the sanctity of life… I don’t believe human and fetal remains should be treated like medical waste and disposed of in landfills.

He’s right, of course. It’s an inhumane tragedy that aborted and miscarried babies can be thrown out with the trash. But it seems that any time pro-life advocates make any move to uphold the sanctity of unborn human life, abortion advocates start labeling us as misogynists and accusing us of trying to shame women. There seems to be a disconnect as abortion advocates repeatedly fail to grasp that the motive behind the pro-life movement really is to protect innocent human life, not to shame women for their decisions.

Since the legislation does not express any motives beyond the desire to treat fetal remains respectfully, it’s dishonest to claim as truth that the regulations are designed to do nothing more than shame women who choose abortion.

Untruth 4: The law restricts access to abortion and places an undue burden on women seeking abortion.

From the commentary site Vice:

The requirements faced opposition from medical professionals and reproductive rights advocates in the state who argue they place an unnecessary burden on women and abortion providers and don’t protect public health.

And from an article in the Texas Tribune:

Senior staff attorney David Brown on Monday said the rule was “an unnecessary burden and an intrusion” on a woman’s “personal beliefs…”.

Truth: These measures have absolutely no bearing on abortion laws as they currently stand. The only way that this could even be remotely interpreted as placing an undue burden on women would be if the cost becomes prohibitive. As of yet, however, there is no consensus on what the cost of this measure will be or whether abortion facilities would be allowed to pass that cost on to women. Some have speculated that the cost of abortion will skyrocket, while others suggest that the annual cost for the abortion facilities would be negligible.

Untruth 5: Women will suffer psychological torment from having to bury their aborted babies.

From the Vogue article once again:

This measure means that both women seeking abortions and those who very much want a child but suffer a miscarriage at a healthcare facility … must face the psychological torment of burying or cremating their embryos.

Truth: To be fair, this isn’t exactly an untruth. But again, women are not the ones responsible for having to bury their babies. That responsibility falls to the facilities. At most, it might require asking the woman how she would like the remains handled.

Further, if going to an abortion facility and having to choose between two boxes marked “interment” and “cremation” causes psychological torment, it’s an indication that a person is not comfortable with the choice she is making. After all, choosing the way in which a healthcare facility disposes of a “blob of tissue” or “biological waste” would certainly not have any impact on a person. How many people suffer psychological torment wondering what the hospital is doing with their gallbladder after it has been removed?

Lastly, interment and cremation are perfectly appropriate options for disposing of human remains. If abortion advocates are concerned about exposing to women the fact that their unborn children are human, that is a problem they have to deal with. But to simply claim that women will suffer blanket psychological torment on account of these new regulations is both dishonest and speculative, even if not outright false.

The new rules enacted in Texas serve to uphold the dignity and sanctity of human life in the fetal stage. It’s daunting to know that these types of untruths are being spread in the culture, and perhaps bring about a dismay on our own part. But we must remember that we have truth on our side. So let’s fight for that truth, be the voice of reason, and engage in honest discussion about these tough issues as though the dignity of unborn children were on the line.

After all, that is the truth.


  • Cullen Herout

    Cullen Herout is a pro-life, pro-family writer. He is a licensed mental health practitioner, and has worked for almost six years with the post-abortion ministry Rachel’s Vineyard. Cullen hosts a pro-life radio show, which can be heard here. Follow him on Facebook here or at his own blog, Ready To Stand.

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