A federal judge in San Antonio is hearing testimony this week on a state law requiring abortion providers to bury or cremate the remains of fetuses rather than incinerating or dumping them in a landfill.
Abortion providers argue the law puts clinics in danger of closing because there is only one known business willing to pick up and properly dispose of fetal remains. Pro-life advocates say it's about providing dignity for the aborted fetuses.
“The state is implementing this policy to say we're not prohibiting the abortions on this policy, we're not stopping them, we are requiring that their bodies be handled with respect and dignity,” says John Seago with Texas Right to Life. “That's reasonable and very similar to how we handle human remains for any individual after birth.”
Under the state law, health centers that provide care to pregnant woman must ensure that fetal tissue is buried or cremated — with the ashes buried or appropriately scattered — after an abortion or a miscarriage-related procedure.
“It's not only the cost in terms of dollars and cents, but also the cost of having personel to provide the services and also to have the burial services at the ready,” says Josh Blackman with South Texas College of Law Houston.
A federal judge already blocked the law from going into effect, but Blackman believes it will be upheld this time around.
“Whether this goes to the Supreme Court, that's a new variable because we might be facing a more conservative cour than we were before.”