Federal Court Again Blocks Texas GOP’s ‘Fetal Remains’ Law

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Federal Court Again Blocks Texas GOP’s ‘Fetal Remains’ Law

Jessica Mason Pieklo

A ruling Monday blocks a provision of SB 8 that mandates specific means of disposal of fetal or embryonic remains.

A federal district court on Monday blocked a Texas measure that would require health-care providers to bury or cremate embryonic or fetal tissue from abortions, miscarriage, or treatment for ectopic pregnancy.

The decision came in a lawsuit challenging provisions of SB 8, an anti-abortion omnibus bill that mandates these disposal requirements and bans dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortions. A federal court ruled in November that the D&E ban is unconstitutional. Attorneys for the State of Texas appealed that ruling to the conservative U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The court has not yet heard arguments in that challenge. 

The lawsuit challenging the fetal remains provision was brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Lawyering Project on behalf of Whole Woman’s Health and other Texas abortion care providers.

Monday’s ruling comes almost a year after a lower court first blocked similar requirements enacted by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt that ruled an entirely different set of Texas abortion restrictions unconstitutional.

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“The legislature’s relentless attacks on access to reproductive health care prevent women from getting the care that they need,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health and lead plaintiff in the case, in a statement. “These attacks continue to be dangerous and wrong.”

Monday’s decision means the requirements will be blocked while the lawsuit challenging their constitutionality proceeds.