Statement: Texas Abortion Providers File Lawsuit Against Medically Unnecessary Fetal Tissue Burial Rules

For Release: December 12, 2016

Contact: [email protected]

Texas — On Monday, a coalition of abortion providers, represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas challenging rules that would require embryonic and fetal tissue to be buried following an abortion. Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, released the following statement —

“NARAL Pro-Choice Texas is proud to support abortion providers in their fight against restrictions that place unnecessary burdens on people seeking abortion. Our anti-choice state lawmakers have shown again and again that they are willing to waste precious taxpayer dollars defending sham regulations and putting political ideology over the safe practice of modern medicine.

There are real problems in Texas affecting children that our lawmakers should be addressing instead of wasting time and taxpayer dollars restricting access to abortion. If the lawmakers in our state truly cared about protecting the dignity of life, they would focus on fixing the broken foster care system and CPS reform.

It’s clear that these embryonic and fetal tissue burial rules only serve to restrict and stigmatize abortion and shame people for their private health care decisions.”

ACT NOW Against Rules Requiring Embryonic & Fetal Tissue Burial

On Monday, the Texas Department of State Health Services published the final rules on fetal and embryonic tissue burial, which we know serve no medical benefit and do nothing but impose an undue burden on Texans seeking abortion care. Since this summer, tens of thousands of you have submitted comments, spoken out at hearings and rallied outside the state health agency to oppose these rules, but it’s clear that the agency isn’t listening to us, or the medical community for that matter.

There’s still more you can do to make your voice heard. Right now, you can:

  1. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. Remember to keep it within the word limit. You can use the talking points below to help you.
  1. Write or call your state lawmaker to register your opposition to this rule and any legislation. This month, Rep. Byron Cook introduced House Bill 201, which is likely to move through the legislature next session. You can find out who represents you here and use the talking points below in crafting your message.
  1. If you are interested in speaking publicly sharing your personal experience with abortion or miscarriage, (to the media, in a legal brief, at a public hearing), please email Heather Busby ([email protected]) with your contact info and we’ll discuss it further with you.
  2. Join our Legislative Action Team if you haven’t already! By signing up, you’ll get updates throughout the legislative session on other ways to get involved at the Capitol and in your local community. This week, we hosted our first Legislative Action Team call, which you can hear by clicking here.

Here are some talking points you can use in your letter to the editor or when writing or calling your lawmaker:

  • These rules have nothing to do with the safe practice of modern medicine, but instead are part of a nationwide effort to enact unnecessary regulations to restrict access to abortion.
  • Health care providers like hospitals and abortion clinics already follow the state’s standards for the sanitary disposal of medical waste including embryonic tissue. Just like other health care providers, they work with licensed medical tissue removal professionals to ensure fetal tissue is handled respectfully and safely and in accordance with the law. The addition of non-medical ritual to current clinical practice only serves to further interfere with a patient’s autonomy and decision making in their own medical care.
  • These requirements apply to miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies and make it harder for a family’s ability to provide tissue samples for pathological examination and testing. This testing is important to get a more accurate diagnosis, which may help them successfully carry future pregnancies to term.
  • The rules unduly burden both abortion patients and providers without any discernable, proven medical benefit, which violates the U.S Supreme Court ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.
  • Every patient makes the decision to have an abortion for their own reasons based on their own lived experience.  We should focus on making sure that they are supported and respected in their decision and in their access to safe healthcare.
  • I ask that you remove politics from public health and listen to input from providers, medical practitioners and public health professionals rather than politicians when deciding public health policy.
  • Please rescind these rules or make reasonable adjustments to them – such as allowing incineration without burial – that provide for a humane and sanitary solution without unduly burdening patients and providers.

Statement: Anti-Abortion Lawmakers Continue Playing Politics with Texans’ Health Care

Today, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced Senate Bill 20, which would ban insurance coverage for abortion. This legislation follows a string of anti-abortion bills filed last week. Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, released the following statement —

“This session, Texas lawmakers need to fix the litany of areas where they have failed families — from our broken child welfare system to chronic underfunding of public education. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and state lawmakers should prioritize policies that improve the lives of Texans and their families, including expanding access to reproductive health care, not play politics by passing medically unnecessary restrictions that make it even more difficult for Texans to access safe, legal abortion.”
“The ban on fetal tissue research from an elective abortion — filed last week — is a backlash to heavily edited and discredited videos released in 2015 intended to smear Planned Parenthood. As no abortion clinics in Texas currently participate in donating fetal tissue to researchers, Senate Bill 8 accomplishes nothing but further stigmatizing abortion.”

Get Involved This Legislative Session!

The 2017 legislative session begins in less than two months, and anti-choice lawmakers are already filing harmful abortion restrictions — from a bill requiring burial or cremation of tissue following an abortion, miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, to legislation that would repeal the fetal anomaly exception in Texas’ 20-week abortion ban.

These are just a handful of the attacks we’ll be fighting this session, and we want YOU to join us in taking action! To stay on top of all things reproductive health and rights, sign up for our Legislative Action Team and we’ll keep you updated on bills that affect reproductive health and alert you to opportunities to testify and rally at the Texas Capitol.

We’ll also share opportunities to act in your own communities — from visits to your local elected officials’ district offices, visibility actions like protests and banner drops, online campaigns, letter writing events, phone banking, and other activities. You’ll also get exclusive invites to webinars and conference calls.

To kick off our series of actions, we’re hosting a Telephone Town Hall on November 28. During the phone call, you’ll hear from our our staff about our proactive policy agenda for the upcoming legislative session, challenges we’re facing and a number of ways you can get involved. To get the call-in number, sign up here.

To join the Legislative Action Team: npctex.as/2017lege
To sign up for the telephone town hall: npctex.as/npcttownhall

NARAL Pro-Choice Texas fights every day for reproductive freedom for all Texans and we’re so glad to have you on our side!

Statement: Fetal Tissue Burial Rules Provide No Public Health Benefit

Today, the Texas Department of State Health Services held a second public hearing on proposed rules that would require embryonic and fetal tissue to be buried or cremated following an abortion, miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.

Blake Rocap, legislative counsel at NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, issued the following statement–

“Since July, Texans have shown through their outpouring of public comments and petition signatures that they will not stand for politically motivated attacks on reproductive health care. The Department of State Health Services did not take seriously, and refuses to respond to, the concerns of thousands of Texans who oppose this rule and the doctors and hospitals who must comply with it.

This rule provides no public health benefit, just like the state’s abortion restrictions that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down in June.

This is another in a long line of politically motivated attacks that make it harder for Texans to access abortion.  Instead of passing laws that force government intrusion on a patient’s access to health care, we should focus on making sure that patients are supported and respected and empowered in their health care decision.”

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There has not yet been a date set for the rules to go into effect.

During the second 30-day public comment period that ended on October 31, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas and Planned Parenthood Texas Votes submitted comments on behalf of more than 5,000 Texans opposing these rules.