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Texas Finalizes Latest Unconstitutional Effort to Restrict Safe, Legal Abortion

WASHINGTON - Today the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) finalized unconstitutional new regulations that require the burial or cremation of embryonic and fetal tissue that results from abortions or miscarriages. This politically motivated new rule is designed to restrict a woman’s right to access safe and legal abortion by increasing both the cost of reproductive healthcare services and the shame and stigma surrounding abortion and pregnancy loss.  

In a recently submitted public comment on the rule, the Center for Reproductive Rights criticized the state for ignoring concerns raised by medical organizations, legal experts and others who argue that these unconstitutional new restrictions offer no public health or safety benefit. The regulations – submitted just four days after the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt decision in July – are in direct defiance of the high court’s ruling, which held that restrictions on legal abortion cannot impose burdens on a woman’s right to access abortion care without providing any legitimate benefit

The regulations would force healthcare providers serving women who seek abortion, treatment for miscarriage, or removal of an ectopic pregnancy to bury or cremate the embryonic or fetal tissue resulting from these procedures, regardless of the woman’s personal wishes or beliefs.

In October, DSHS released a second draft of those regulations that was substantially unchanged from the original version put forth in July--despite the fact that the state received more than 12,000 public comments that largely opposed the new restrictions.

“These new restrictions reveal the callous indifference that Texas politicians have toward women,” said David Brown, Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Forcing a woman to pay for a burial after she ends a pregnancy or experiences a miscarriage is not just absurd -- it is an unnecessary burden and an intrusion on her personal beliefs.”

The Center for Reproductive Rights has made clear to Texas officials that it is prepared to take further legal action to ensure that Texas women can continue to access abortion and other reproductive healthcare without politically motivated interference. The possibility of new litigation comes as Texas faces a $4.5 million legal bill over its defense of the sham clinic shutdown laws struck down by the Supreme Court in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

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The Center for Reproductive Rights uses the law to advance reproductive freedom as a fundamental human right that all governments are legally obligated to protect, respect, and fulfill.

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