Texas’ Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) finalized department rules giving dignity to deceased preborn children on Monday, November 28. The new rule requires medical or abortion facilities to bury or cremate the bodies of aborted or miscarried preborn children effective on December 19. The policy has been months in the making and the center of a contentious debate, which included two public hearings and more than 35,000 public comments. In the final version, HHSC clarified that only medical facilities are subject to these rules, not Texas women suffering miscarriages at home, a clarification that Texas Right to Life asked HHSC to make.
HHSC proposed these rules originally under Governor Greg Abbott’s urging, who stated that these children should not be “treated like medical waste and disposed of in landfills,” as was previously standard practice for abortion facilities. Texas Right to Life echoes the Governor’s sentiments and applauds HHSC for taking steps to treat these children with the same dignity afforded any other human being.
The abortion lobby loudly opposed the change and voiced deceitful objections, stating, among other things, that these rules would be burdensome to women, when they actually only apply to medical facilities; that expensive funerals would be required for each child, yet nowhere in the rules is this stated; and that death certificates would be issued after each abortion or miscarriage. While HHSC explicitly clarified that the regulations do not require death certificates, the longstanding rule by the Department of State Health Services requiring fetal death certificates to be issued for children 20 weeks and older remains in place and has seemingly not bankrupted the healthcare or abortion industries. Among the most logically incoherent objections voiced by some of the opponents was the “my body, my choice” argument. This is truly an absurd conclusion considering that the rules specifically apply to the bodies of deceased children, require nothing of their mothers, and will be carried out by medical or abortion facilities, not the women suffering miscarriages or undergoing abortions.
Some legislators may seek to codify these department rules into state law during the upcoming legislative session. However, Texas Right to Life has strongly urged elected officials to prioritize bills that will actually stop the unnecessary deaths caused by elective abortion. We support policies that provide dignity to preborn children before they are victimized and the ultimate way to accomplish this goal is to enact laws that challenge Roe v. Wade. With limited time and political will, Pro-Life efforts must not be focused on how babies are discarded after they are aborted. Rather, the Pro-Life movement should prioritize bills that affirm preborn children’s constitutional Right to Life and will immediately save lives, like the Dismemberment Abortion Ban.
The 85th Session of the Texas Legislature begins on January 10 and Texas Right to Life will be on the ground in the Capitol every day working to pass strong protections for preborn children. Texas lawmakers must fulfill their promises from the campaign trail by securing protections for the most vulnerable among us. Join us in holding our elected officials accountable and tell them you expect them to take Pro-Life action when they return to Austin.