AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas intends to require aborted fetuses to be buried or cremated come September, adding new abortion regulations after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state's restrictive clinic laws.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott ordered state health officials to propose the changes, his office said Thursday, which were quietly put out for public comment this month.
Similar fetal remain rules in Indiana are on hold after a federal judge granted a temporary injunction last week against that state's sweeping new anti-abortion law. That bill, signed in March by GOP Gov. Mike Pence, more notably also banned abortions due to genetic abnormalities.
Texas, however, isn't waiting for lawmakers to pass a bill regarding fetal remains. Abbott had been talking with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission for months about making a change, Abbott spokeswoman Ciara Matthews said.
State agencies in Texas are allowed to adopt some rules on its own without legislative approval. Although the rules are expected to take effect in the fall, Matthews said Abbott hopes the Legislature will "enshrine" the rules into law next year.
"Governor Abbott believes human and fetal remains should not be treated like medical waste, and the proposed rule changes affirms the value and dignity of all life," Matthews said.
Anti-abortion groups bristled at the new regulations, which were posted online for public comment July 1. That was four days after the nation's high court struck down a pair of Texas restrictions that would have reduced the number of abortion clinics in the state to 10, down from more than 40 in 2012.
"This is a new low for our state's leaders who are committed to making abortion inaccessible and shaming Texans who have an abortion," said Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas.
Texas' now-dismantled clinic restrictions required doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and all abortion facilities to meet hospital-level operating standards.
Rules surrounding fetal disposal are found in other states, too, including Ohio, where in June, the state agreed to pay Planned Parenthood more than $45,000 in legal bills as part of a dispute of such requirements. Ohio rules required fetuses to be disposed in a "humane" matter but didn't further define humane. Planned Parenthood accused the state of changing the interpretation and then unfairly targeting the organization.