Target: Charles Smith, Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner
Goal: Don’t require embryonic and fetal tissue to be buried or cremated.
A proposed rule, which has been in the works for several months now in Texas, threatens the privacy, freedom, and wellbeing of individuals who do not carry pregnancies to term. The rule, in its current form, prohibits hospitals, abortion clinics, and other health care facilities from disposing of fetal remains in sanitary landfills, stipulating instead that these remains must either be cremated or interred, regardless of the period of gestation. This includes instances of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancies (a condition in which a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, often requiring surgery when conclusively diagnosed).
The rule has already been met with an intense outcry from the medical community, reproductive rights advocates, and interestingly, funeral directors. It isn’t abundantly clear how the new rules would be implemented, for instance, whether a death certificate would be required to inter fetal remains, and who will bear the costs. The Funeral Consumers Alliance of Texas estimates that this requirement could add $2,000 to the cost of an abortion. During a hearing on the rule, one Texas resident, Ashley Blinkhorn, tearfully testified about two previous miscarriages, saying that if this regulation had been in effect, she would not have sought medical care because the costs would have been too high.
The Texas health commission claims that the rule will protect the public from communicable diseases, and lead to enhanced public health and safety. However, Texas Governor Greg Abbot has stated that the rule was proposed because he doesn’t believe fetal remains should be “treated like medical waste and disposed of in landfills.” At the heart of things, it seems this proposal has far less to do with public health concerns than it does with enforcing a certain view of fetuses as people.
The rule has not gone into effect yet. The Health Department has said it will offer additional information after reviewing the thousands of comments it received – add your voice to tell the Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner, this rule must not pass.
Dear Commissioner Smith,
I am writing with a comment about the proposed rule to require that fetal and embryonic remains be buried or cremated. I believe this measure to be unnecessary, unjust, and unkind to people who are already dealing with the emotional and financial costs of ending a pregnancy – whether by miscarriage or abortion.
No evidence has been shown that this rule would actually promote health and safety – a requirement mandated by the Supreme Court decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Health professionals have in fact expressed deep concern over the implementation of the rule, citing the violation of privacy and significant financial burden it will pose, which could result in women not seeking medical help in cases where it is truly needed.
For the wellbeing of Texan citizens, you must abandon the measure entirely. Requiring this treatment of fetal remains will only hurt women and families, and I urge you to heed the thousands of voices that have spoken out against this regulation.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Stuart Seeger