The lovely state of Texas now requires women to bury or cremate fetuses
Texas is famous for being the state that took the war on abortion rights to new heights. Since the Supreme Court ruled TRAP (targeted regulation of abortion providers) laws unconstitutional in Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the state remains desperate to cling to its anti-woman reputation, and its new law requiring Texas women to bury or cremate aborted fetuses definitely gets the job done.
As of Dec. 19, a new law announced this week will prohibit hospitals and abortion clinics from disposing of remains in sanitary landfills, no matter what the fetus’ period of gestation. The Texas Tribune notes that this law will not be applied to miscarriages or medication, “at home” abortions, but this law will cost women seeking surgical abortions an additional $2,000 or so, as the state will not be paying for the burials or cremations it requires. And since medication abortions remain illegal in the state, essentially all abortions from Dec. 19 onward could cost women an additional $2,000.
Women seeking abortions could obviously try to dodge this additional fee by traveling out of state to have the procedure, but in doing so, would incur additional costs and inconvenience from travel. No matter how you look at it, this law poses an unavoidable undue burden on women.
Affording abortion is already a huge struggle for low-income women, since the Hyde amendment prohibits federal funding for the service in the name of not offending the consciences of abortion opponents whose religious views are apparently more important than the livelihoods of poor women. Because, sure, let’s devote countless taxpayer dollars to wars that actually kill born, living humans, and then simultaneously portray women making choices about their bodies as murderers — that makes total sense in this delightful society of ours!
At any rate, to the point, $2,000 is a lot of money; Texas women will literally be paying out of pocket for other people’s views and ideologies, which strikes me as a violation of the very religious freedom rights Republicans claim to care so much about. The $2,000 fee also absolutely poses the very sort of undue burden on women seeking abortions ruled unconstitutional and struck down in Whole Women’s Health back in June, as the Center for Reproductive Rights points out. If conservatives are so desperate to misleadingly portray fetuses as martyred human beings, they should be the ones paying for this bullshit.
At any rate, Texas Governor Greg Abbott thinks this new law is just awesome. In an email this past summer, Abbott wrote: “I believe it is imperative to establish higher standards that reflect our respect for the sanctity of life.” At the end of the day, if Texas’ laws on abortion make one thing clear, it’s that to the state’s predominantly conservative lawmakers, fetuses are people with constitutional rights, but women aren’t.
The state has just 19 clinics offering abortion to its 5.5 million women of reproductive age and last month began floating a law in its legislature that would sweepingly ban late-term abortions, disregarding cases of extreme fetal anomalies.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence earlier this year signed a similar requirement for the burial of aborted fetuses into law in his state of Indiana, only for it to be struck down by a federal judge who retorted that it was obviously unconstitutional. So, alas, there’s some hope that this new law in Texas could still be done away with, but either way, its message remains clear: women who have abortions are to be perceived as murderers, and the humanization of clusters of unborn tissue emerges from the dehumanization of women.