U.S. judge halts order requiring burial of aborted babies in Texas

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A federal judge on Wednesday extended until Jan. 27 a restraining order that halted a new Texas regulation requiring fetal tissue remains to be buried or cremated to allow for more time to make a ruling.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks issued the ruling after hearing two days of testimony this week on the regulation that Texas contends is aimed at maintaining the highest standards of human dignity. Abortion rights groups contend it is an unnecessary and vague regulation aimed at making abortions more arduous and expensive.

Attorney General John Langley Langley argued the cost would remain the same, since abortion centers and hospitals that perform abortions already spend money on disposing of dead babies.

“These regulations in no way, in any way, shape or form, regulate women,” he noted. “They only regulate healthcare facilities.”

Sparks last month put the regulation on hold before it was to take effect on Dec. 19. He had previously issued a temporary restraining order to delay enactment until at least Jan. 6.

Sparks asked the state how the existing law on the disposal of human remains and dead human bodies would mesh with the proposed regulation and was told by a lawyer for the state that fetal tissue is not considered human remains for the purpose of the statute.

“Texas values the dignity of the remains of the unborn and believes that fetal tissue should be disposed of properly and humanely,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, said in a statement. He said he is confident the state will prevail.

— by Jon Herskovitz | Reuters

CNJ staff contributed to this report

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