Pro-choice demonstrators protest in June in front of the U.S. Supreme Court before the court struck down a Texas law that would have reduced the number of abortion clinics in the Lone Star state. This week, Texas finalized new rules that require the remains of all fetuses aborted in hospitals or clinics be buried or cremated. File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo
AUSTIN, Texas, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- All abortions performed in the state of Texas must be followed by the burial or cremation of the fetal remains, no matter how undeveloped they are, according to new state regulations that take effect in three weeks.
In the past, fetal remains only needed to be disposed of in a sanitary landfill like other biological waste. The state, though, approved new rules this week that mandate those remains instead be buried, or burned for scattering.
"Fetal tissue, regardless of the period of gestation," the rule states, must either be immediately buried, burned and buried, or steam-cleaned and buried.
In other words, the remains of an aborted fetus must be handled like that of a dead adult or child.
The requirements are part of Rule §1.136, which outlines "Approved Methods of Treatment and Disposition" of aborted fetal remains, animal remains, alternate human byproducts like blood and plasma, and forms of biological waste.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott reportedly ordered the new abortion rule in July after the U.S. Supreme Court scrapped parts of a Texas law that would have cut down the number of abortion clinics in the state.
Abbott told supporters in an email that month that the rule change shows his commitment to protect "rights of the unborn" and "turn the tides" against abortion in the state.
"For a child to have a chance IN life a child must first have a chance AT life," he wrote.
"It is imperative to establish higher standards that reflect our respect for the sanctity of life," he continued. "This is why Texas will require [abortion] clinics and hospitals to bury or cremate human and fetal remains.
"I don't believe human and fetal remains should be treated like medical waste and disposed of in landfills."
Abbott said the change is part of his "Life initiative."
The Texas Department of Health and Human Services reviewed about 35,000 comments on the proposal and held public comment hearings for feedback before officials finalized the changes.
Opponents of the rule change argue that the burial requirement is an unnecessary intrusion on patient privacy.
Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, called the new mandate "a thinly veiled attempt to shame Texans who have abortions and make it harder for the doctors who provide them."
"By requiring tissue burial, TX has once again ignored the concerns of the medical community and thousands of [Texans]," NARAL Pro-Choice Texas tweeted Wednesday.