Texas regulators want to require abortion providers to bury or cremate fetal remains rather than disposing of the material as standard medical waste, The Dallas Morning News reports.
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission created the proposal, which was published in the secretary of state's weekly Texas Register, kicking off a 30-day public comment period. The rule can go into effect after the comment period ends, without approval from the state legislature.
"The Health and Human Services Commission developed new rules to ensure Texas law maintains the highest standards of human dignity," spokesman Bryan Black told the Morning News.
Abortion-rights advocates argue that the rule change would create a needless obstacle for women who wish to terminate their pregnancies.
"The burden is going to fall on the people seeking abortions and many of these folks are already struggling to access care because of all the other restrictions in the state," Heather Busby, executive director of the advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, told the Houston Chronicle.
The hand of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, was seen in the change.
"Gov. Abbott believes human and fetal remains should not be treated like medical waste, and the proposed rule changes affirms the value and dignity of all life," spokeswoman Ciara Matthews told the Chronicle.
In 2013 Texas passed an abortion bill that slapped strict limits on providers, forcing many to stop offering the procedure. The law was struck down by the Supreme Court last month. The measure was supposed to reduce the number of late-term abortions in the state, but NBC News reports
that it had the opposite effect. The Department of State Health Services in Texas conducted a review which showed a 27 percent increase in abortions after 12 weeks in 2014.
Planned Parenthood came under fire recently over allegations of illegally sharing patients' confidential information as part of the organization's practice of harvesting fetal tissue from abortions, according to The Hill.
The new Texas regulations would prevent the practice.
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