Texas, recently seen alienating Anthony Kennedy with is draconian anti-abortion measures and — it still doesn’t look right when I type it — alienating the Fifth Circuit with its vote suppression law, is needless to say jumping on the latest terrible policy initiative to emanate from the anti-reproductive rights fever swamp:
The hot new trend in anti-abortion laws is “fetal burial” requirements, which force patients and healthcare providers to bury or cremate aborted and miscarried fetuses. As a hearing in Texas made clear yesterday, the law there is poorly thought-out, does very little to improve public health, and sounds a lot like it’s solely designed to create another obstruction to abortion access.
Ohio, South Carolina and Mississippi have all implemented fetal burial laws, while Planned Parenthood is currently suing Indiana over their proposed law. Texas is trying a slightly different tack, trying to pass a new rule through the Texas Department of State Health Services, also known as sneaking it in the backdoor. (Proposed rule changes are published in a publication called the Texas Register, and the public then has 30 days to comment before the rule goes into effect. The rules usually go into effect, especially when they’re anti-abortion ones.)
As the Texas Tribune reports, medical professionals, funeral directors and reproductive rights activists packed a Thursday hearing to tell the state that this is a very bad idea, creating new costs for patients and doctors alike.
Funeral providers testifying pointed out that a basic funeral costs $2,000, and that it’s unclear just who would be expected to shoulder those costs. It’s also unclear whether women who miscarried at home would be expected to carry bloody fetal tissue to their doctor’s offices, and whether each fetus would be required to get a death certificate.
The Texas Medical Association is also a little confused submitting a letter to the health department asking a number of very specific, granular questions: What about molar and ectopic pregnancies? If a death certificate is issued, would it be publicly available (potentially compromising patient privacy)? Is the measure feasible at rural healthcare facilities where there are fewer options for medical waste disposal companies?
Anti-abortion activists supporting the measure responded to all those questions by shrugging wildly and suggesting maybe abortion providers should pay for any new costs.
These laws don’t even have the formal appearance of being related to protecting the health of women; they’re solely about imposing needless costs on abortion services. So Texas passing the regulation was inevitable. I do want to return to the top of Merlan’s post for a second, though:
Ohio, South Carolina and Mississippi have all implemented fetal burial laws,
OK, South Carolina and Mississippi, what can you expect, but Ohio! Remember when Jon Kasich was supposed to be the kindly, moderate, reasonable, thinking person’s Republican? That was always ridiculous. His affect might be more reasonable than Trump’s, but substantively he’s a wingnut in full.